Well, another GNCC weekend is upon us and it’s the best one of the season for us here at digitaloffroad.com as we get to sleep in our own beds each night and make the short drive to Steele Creek each morning—you can’t beat that! The weather is looking like it’ll be great for this weekend (yeah, there’s a small chance of showers but we should be good) so we don’t have to worry about a repeat of the 2010 mudfest.
I got a text from Josh Strang yesterday saying “Well, I guess I won’t be able to make it 4-4 at Steele Creek.” There was some buzz going around the pits during Florida and Georgia that Strang would be making his 2012 GNCC Debut on his KTM at Steele Creek but those rumors are false, Strang has yet to ride since having his leg worked on again, but it’s sounding like it is finally healing and we’ll see him back in action soon, possibly at Big Buck. But, back to the Steele Creek streak—the thought hadn’t really crossed my mind, but Strang was right, he had won the last three Steele Creek GNCCs! The last winner before Strang was David Knight back in 2008, and then Barry Hawk took the win back in 2007. So unless Barry quits the track crew and races or Knighter makes an unexpected return we will have a first-time winner at this year’s event. It’s pretty crazy to think that with all the races they’ve won throughout the years that neither Paul Whibley nor Charlie Mullins have taken an overall here (although Charlie was pretty close last year!).
The XC2 Pro Lites Class could get interesting this weekend, as if you remember both Steward Baylor and Jesse Robinson had awful races here last year and I’m sure will be looking to better those results. This track is pretty much in Jesse’s backyard so I know he’ll have a lot of fan support and the Husaberg / Moose Racing backed rider will for sure want to redeem himself after a sub-par performance in Georgia.
Steward Baylor tweeted that he spent time yesterday doing some suspension testing with Bart Hayes over at Genuine Dirt Rider / WP Racing / RidePG.com (Bart wears a lot of hats!) and he’s feeling good. That’s probably not a good thing for the rest of the XC2 Pro Lites class but Stew will have stiff competition from the FAR Husqvarna boys of Jason Thomas and Andrew DeLong who will be making his first GNCC appearance of the year after breaking his collarbone and collapsing a lung before the season started. Jason Thomas rides well at Steele Creek so he could definitely be a threat, he got his lone win at this event last year and he was right on Baylor’s heels throughout the General GNCC a couple of weeks ago. If UK wants to stay in this championship fight he needs to get a win soon before Baylor’s points lead becomes insurmountable.
While we’re on the topic of XC2 I need to mention real quickly a giveaway we’ll be doing over on our Facebook page next week. Our Aussie mate Glenn Kearney gave us his Fly Racing jersey that he wore to a 3rd-place finish in XC2 at the Maxxis General GNCC and we’ll be giving it away to a lucky fan. Stay tuned to our FB page for details. Oh, and just to clear things up that you might’ve read on some other off-road site, GK is a full-time Factory Husqvarna racer in Australia so he won’t be giving up on that to chase an XC2 title here in the states this year. He’s currently 2nd in the E2 class in the Australian Off-Road Championship and 4th place overall in the points and that series is his main priority. That said, don’t be surprised to see GK back in the states at some point this year to get in another race or two.
Speaking of Aussie’s coming to America, we spoke with Toby Price earlier this week and he’s planning on racing the Big Buck GNCC in a few weeks in Union, SC. If you remember, Toby has come over the last couple of years and raced with some help from KTM, with his best result being a 4th-place at the season finale at Loretta Lynn’s. Last year Toby rode a KTM 350 but this year he’ll be on a much bigger KTM 500 EXC. Price is a big boy so that extra displacement should suit him just fine in a GNCC.
We just got back from the Steele Creek track and it’s coming along pretty nicely, but it does look a bit on the dry side. There’s a chance of rain tonight and tomorrow and as scary as it is to actually hope for rain at this place we really could use a little bit.
While at the track I ran into Charlie Mullins who had just gotten back from riding at Cody Gragg’s track on his GNCC race bike. Charlie confirmed for me that he is in fact racing the new EFI model this weekend and that he and the team are fully confident in the bike for this weekend. For what it’s worth, Charlie raced it last weekend in the mud at the Mid East race and won and ran into no problems with his practice bike that had nearly 50-hours on it.
Also, Charlie let me in on something else kind of interesting; he’ll be running a #1 on his bike starting at the Big Buck GNCC. There had been some rumor going around that the KTM brass had forced Charlie and his teammates to run three digit numbers, but Charlie told me that it was actually his decision to run 112 over the #1, mainly because he didn’t really feel comfortable with it on his bike last year in the National Enduros and just wanted to stick with the number he won the title with last year.
And with that I’ll end this week’s 411, I hope to see some of you out at the track this weekend! Oh, one last thing, there is zero cell service at the Steele Creek campground for those of us with AT&T so tweets might be tough to come by. I’m guessing that Jen Kenyon will be able to round up some internet access for the official GNCC Twitter so I’d give that a follow for live updates.