Author: Jason Hooper
Mother Nature has wreaked havoc on the 2011 Can-Am GNCC series forcing the promoters to cancel the last two rounds of the season. A couple of weeks ago I gave you all the scoop on the flooding at Loretta Lynn's Ranch that resulted in the cancellation of that round, and two weeks ago in Indiana torrential rains came down during the Pro ATV race forcing that race to be cut 30-minutes short, and ultimately for the entire day of bike racing to be canceled on Sunday. This left a lot of riders pretty upset after having driven to Indian for the event, but the track crew really had no choice but to cancel as a bridge on the course had been washed out by a rising creek. The pits were also a mess forcing nearly every person to be towed out of the facility.
So now it's been 7 weeks since the last GNCC race for the bike crew and we're headed to a new venue in Patton, PA, the Rock Run GNCC. As you can tell from the name, the course is supposed to be incredibly rocky which will be a big change from the hardpack terrain of the last three GNCCs. Typicaly the GNCC series visits the same track venues for multiple years and it's much easier to make predictions as to which riders will excel just be looking at their track record at the event. Since we can't really do that for this race, we'll highlight riders who have done well at the other rocky races on the series like the Mountain Ridge event just a couple hours away from this weekend's race and the Motosport.com Snowshoe GNCC in West Virginia which will be the next stop on the tour.
Nate Kanney is known on the tour as a rock specialist. With a win at the super rocky Snowshoe event last year, and running up front the majority of the Mountain Ridge event last season before a bike malfunction, Kanney should be a contender this weekend. Hailing from upstate New York, Nate has a slew of very rocky practice tracks at his disposal and will have certainly spent the last two weeks off preparing for this race.
Factory Beta racer Chris Bach is another rider that excels in the rocks, even though he isn't quite sure why as there really aren't a lot of rocky tracks in his home state of Indiana. Bach put in an impressive podium finish at last year's Snowshoe GNCC as a privateer and is looking to end a string of bad races since his 3rd-place finish at the season opener with a podium this weekend.
Current series points leader, FMF/KTM's Charlie Mullins won last year's Mountain Ridge GNCC and was in a podium position at Snowshoe before breaking his toe with one lap remaining. Mullins is one of the riders in the series that seems to be able to go fast in any terrain and will be a factor in this weekend's event for sure.
2010 XC1 Pro Champion, FMF/Makita/Suzuki's Josh Strang has spent the last two weeks testing specifically for the upcoming rock races and has gotten his bike setup resembling his 2009 race bike that he used to win the Mountain Ridge GNCC in a close battle with then teammate Charlie Mullins. Strang also used that setup to pull a huge lead at Snowshoe before he hit a deer on the last lap and knocked himself out. Strang isn't happy only having one win at this point in the season as last year he swept the first four rounds of the series and will be going for the W this weekend.
Pro racing kicks off this Sunday in Pennsylvania at 1:00PM EST. If you aren't able to make it to the event, be sure to check out www.gncclive.com for live timing and results to follow your favorite riders throughout the race.