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Paul Whibley’s Steele Creek GNCC Race Report

With some improvements made to the set up of my bike I was confident of a better result going into Round 3 of the GNCCs at Steel Creek in Morganton, North Carolina. Rain was forecast for Sunday afternoon and around lunch time it started to cool down and seemed like the weather was closing in. Light rain was falling as we lined up for the start making the mostly hard pack track pretty slippery.

The start went ok with a mid pack start but sneeking into the top three before we hit the woods. I was following Josh Strang and KTM rider Cory Buttrick. I was riding a little tight with the slick conditions not inspiring any confidence and pumped up a little in the early part of the race. I soon had other issues with the setting in the shock seeming too soft and not behaving like I would have liked. It seemed to be riding low in the back and this combined with the conditions was making life tough. I held onto third for a couple laps but lost contact with the leaders. At the fuel stop a quick adjustment was made to the shock and it was much improved and I felt I could push again but as the rain continued to fall and conditions became increasingly muddy and heavy the soft setup of the shock began to cause some more issues. I was running around 4th place when the 2 laps to go board came out. The track was deteriorating and the slower riders began to struggle on some of the steeper hill climbs. One hill had a lot of riders bottle necked a third of the way up. I weaved my way through and attacked the hill. I got past the main blockage but my back wheel slid down into a rut and I spun out. While I was restarting my bike I was informed that the race was going to be called off due to the blockage. I got my bike going and since I had got past the worst of it I pinned it and climbed to the top of the hill and continued to the finish where they had put the chequered flag out and had indeed called the race off. I was also informed that Strang and the others were stuck at the base of the hill I had just climbed and I was first to come through.

I was also informed that the results were to count from the end of the 5th lap and the last lap that I completed was not to count.

Pretty gutted but thems the breaks.

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