Ballance Wins ITP Power Line Park ATV GNCC in Ohio
Yamaha ATVs Bill Ballance looks to his record-breaking eighth Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Championship in a row after winning Saturday’s ITP Power Line Park GNCC in St. Clairsville , Ohio .
Ballance grabbed the $100 ITP Holeshot award and then held on to win after a heated battle with East Coast ATV’s Chris Borich, who actually crossed the finish first but was later penalized two positions when video tape proof showed he had ventured off of the course. This moved LTERacing.com’s Chris Bithell into second place.
Ballance was leading the race until four miles from finish, when Borich was directed by spectators to make a sudden 90-degree turn off of the race track. He missed 300 yards of the course and ended up in front of Ballance at the finish. Borich’s move was captured on tape by a GNCC official shooting video shooting for the Racer TV broadcast, who then alerted the rest of the track crew. Borich was taken back to the track to see the section he missed and was also shown the video tape. The video showed Borich was not riding through a bottle-necked or traffic jammed section of course, thus he was required to stay on the race track through that section, and course arrows clearly showed the track continued straight. The two-position penalty is consistent with the same penalty used by GNCC officials in similar situations in the past. After being told of the penalty, Borich didn’t attend the post-race podium and interview ceremony.
Ballance’s win puts him in prime position to win the GNCC title at the series finale Klotz Ironman GNCC in Indiana in two weeks. Although he didn’t see Borich on the last lap, he was pretty sure what had happened. “About as quick as I asked those questions, I figured them out pretty quick in my head what was going on,” Ballance said on the podium. “The Yamaha worked great, and we got a win here today and we’re that much closer to getting an eighth championship, so that feels pretty darn good.”
“I didn’t have a terrible start,” second-place Bithell said. “But I was about tenth or thirteenth. Through this dust—it was bad today. It was just powder dust. You just had to slowly pick people off and slowly take your lines around them.”
Fourth overall went to Brandon Sommers, the XC2 Champion in his first-ever ride in the premier XC1 Pro Class. Fifth went to the ever-consistent Matt Smiley, with motocross champion John Natalie in sixth in the XC1 class.
Monster Energy/National Guard/Kawasaki’s William Yokley was off to his best start of the 2007 season , after pulling second place off the line behind Ballance. Yokley held second behind the leader for two laps, until a mechanical failure forced him to pull off. “The start went really well,” Yokley said. “We’ve been suffering on starts all year. We almost got the holeshot. I’ve been practicing at home and I knew I was getting better. I used to get good starts, and I knew I was getting it back to normal because I was there. My start actually made it to where you could get out there and ride, otherwise I’d be sitting there cruising around and running into ponds like other people. That’s where I’ve been suffering. We’re getting it worked out. It’s a lot of work to develop a new bike.”
Baldwin Motorsports/Wrath Racing Honda rider Adam McGill ran into trouble during the race. “I thought it was a little hot today, so I figured I’d say heck with the race—take a swim,” McGill joked after taking a dunk in a huge mud hole. “When I come out of the woods, I seen the helmets going through in the dust, it opened up. I pinned it straight and the next thing I knew, the bike fell out from under me, flipped over and I was pinned in the water underneath of it. When I came up out of the water, I looked around, and I saw there was probably ten of us stuck in that swamp. It was horrible—chest deep, it stunk.”
The 20-year-old McGill just signed with KTM for 2008, but don’t look for him to be riding orange just yet. “I want to be, but I really cant right now,” McGill said. “I got a lot on the line. I want to finish out on the Honda, and start knocking off some wins on the orange. I’m very excited.”
In XC2 Pro Am, the tables were turned with the 2007 XC2 Champion Brandon Sommers entered in XC1, and Don Ockerman pulled the ATVriders.com $100 holeshot award. Anthony Hill took the overall win, with Mark Notman and Kyle Martin in third.
Third place’s Martin borrowed his little brother’s ATV for this race, after tearing his bike to pieces following the last round in Yadkinville. “I was able to get a real good start, and was looking forward to the race thinking I would get ahead of Don Ockerman, and put some dust between me and everybody else, but we ended up blowing some corners, two or three times and let everybody get around us. I came in the first lap in thirteenth place and was pretty discouraged, so I just put my head down and was able to make up a few positions each lap.”
Mark Notman battled his way into second overall on one of his favorite tracks in the series, which is also his hometrack in Ohio . “I didn’t have too bad a start, I was probably mid pack. I lost them a little bit in the dust and hooked up with Ockerman when he blew the corner and just got going.”
Anthony Hill brought his best start of the year to the overall first place podium position. “I was about fifth or sixth into the woods. Right out here by the front gate, a bunch of the guys in front of me blew the turn, and I just got lucky and saw the line into the woods. I came around the first lap in second, and was just hoping and praying that I’d stay up there. Adam Reed was leading it, and he took gas, and I didn’t take gas for this race, and it turned out to be a good deal. 2008 is up in the books yet, I thought about hanging it up this year, but as of right now, I’m starting to change my ideas. I knew I could hang with these guys, I just never had good starts and always had trouble getting this bike off the line. Today it paid off.”
The LTERacing.com ride of Angel Atwell found her way to first overall for the ATV morning race, beating out Yamaha’s Traci Cecco for her fourth-straight win in the Women’s class. Cecco pulled the holeshot, but Atwell made a break for the lead.
“As soon as you broke out into the long fields, if you were any more than five feet off the person in front of you, you couldn’t see anything,” Atwell said. “I just kept working and pushing, came out into the field and she went one way and I went the other, and she kind of let out of it a little bit in the dust, and I stayed in it, and got around her and never looked back. I’m very excited. I can’t talk highly enough about the sponsors this year that have helped me get to this point, because I’ve never even won two in a row, so four is way past my expectations.”
With the 2007 GNCC Women’s championship wrapped, Traci Cecco held her Yamaha to second place overall, with a smile on her face. “When you’re up here, you just love to be up here,” she said. “The beginning of the season, I was just working really hard and working really good, pulling out those wins, and that’s what you need to do. Come out strong in the beginning and wrap up the championship out early so you can sit back and relax a little.”
Warnert Racing Can-Am’s Rick Cecco won the Open 4x4 class in a close race with Bryan Buckhannon, giving Cecco the 2007 Open 4x4 Championship. His Can-Am teammates Cliff Beasley and Michael Swift won the 4x4 Lites and 4x4 Limited Class, respectively. Joshua Ribley won the U2 class, and Ohio ’s own Seth Mumford won the Youth ATV Overall.
The 2007 Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series concludes with the Klotz Ironman GNCC in Crawfordsville , Indiana on October 27-28.
Photos by Jason Hooper email@example.com
ITP Power Line Park GNCC
St. Clairsville , OH
October 13, 2007
1. Bill Ballance Smith Grove, KY YAM
2. Chris Bithell Irwin, PA HON
3. Chris Borich Sunbury, PA HON
4. Brandon Sommers Millersburg, OH YAM
5. Matt Smiley Kunkletown, PA HON
6. Johnny Gallagher Aurora, OH SUZ
7. Brent Sturdivant Montrose, WV HON
8. Duane Johnson Trenton , MO HON
9. Brandon Ballance Oakland , KY YAM
10. Shawn Hess Muenster, TX HON
11. Jarrod McClure Kaska, PA HON
12. Michael Houston Hickory , NC YAM
13. Craig Reed Crawford, TN HON
14. John Natalie Moutzdale, PA HON
15. Taylor Kiser Alva, FL YAM
16. Anthony Hill Culter, OH HON
17. Mark Notman Hubbard, OH HON
18. Kyle Martin Winona, MO HON
19. Donald Ockerman Marshall , IL HON
20. Ryan Lane Bicknell, IN HON
Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series Standings
(After 11 of 13 rounds)
1. Bill Ballance 317/5 wins
2. Chris Borich 295/6 wins
3. Chris Bithell 237/1 win
4. Matt Smiley 182
5. Adam McGill 160
6. Brandon Sommers 157
7. Taylor Kiser 154
8. Bryan Cook 119
9. Duane Johnson 117
10. Chris Jenks 110