I feel like a broken record saying this, but the 2012 off-road racing season keeps getting more and more interesting with all of the crazy things that have been happening! Last weekend we headed to Indiana for the inaugural Limestone 100 GNCC and I’m sure you all know the outcome of the race but there were some things that went on that haven’t been covered very well so we’ll try and hit those up here.
First, you’ve really got to feel bad for FMF/KTM’s Charlie Mullins as that number one plate curse seems to really be hitting him hard this year. We’re now 6 rounds into the GNCC season and Charlie has yet to get a win–last year he had already won 2 GNCCs and 2 National Enduros at this point. We saw a lot of weird things happen to Josh Strang last season while trying to defend his title and it seems like the weird deals are hitting Charlie now. Mullins got one of his best starts of the year at the Limestone and it wasn’t long before he and teammate Kailub Russell were out front battling and pulling away from the pack. Unfortunately it wasn’t long after they broke away that we got reports that Mullins was broken down on the side of the trail. There have been some rumors on KTM Talk (you can’t believe anything on there) that Charlie’s issues were caused by a crash with a lapper, but I asked Mullins and he said he didn’t have a crash all day. What turned out to be the issue was Charlie’s mechanic forgot to tighten subframe bolts on his bike which allowed the bike to start pivoting in the middle and ultimately tear some wiring which would cause the bike to cut out intermittently. This is such a bummer for Mullins because he was really riding good and I suspect we would’ve seen one of the best races of the season between him and Kailub had this problem not happened. Mullins now sits 26-points, nearly a full race, behind Kailub and Whibley who are tied for first.
Heading into the last lap of the Limestone 100 Andrew DeLong and Steward Baylor were locked in a heated battle for the lead of the XC2 Pro Lites class and had worked their way up to 2nd and 3rd overall on adjusted time, within 10-seconds of the leader Kailub Russell. It looked like it was going to be an epic battle to the finish between the two until we got reports over the radio, that like Mullins, Baylor was on the side of the trail and had reportedly run out of fuel. The fuel issue turned out to not be true, Baylor’s bike had actually sucked the reeds dropping him out of the lead and just looking to finish and salvage whatever points he could. After the KTM mechanics got Stu’s bike fixed and running he was just cruising into the finish with Sam Evans when he ended up having a pretty violent crash that resulted in a cracked helmet and a sore right wrist. Baylor hasn’t said too much online about the wrist injury, but the word is he will most likely sit out the upcoming Mountaineer Run GNCC. The Fly Racing-backed Baylor has a 43-point lead over Jason Thomas in 2nd-place in points and maybe more importantly a 68-point lead over FAR/Husqvarna’s Andrew DeLong who has separated himself from the rest of the pack these last two races. Baylor’s intending on racing the Wyoming round of the National Enduro Series June 17 which will give him a solid month to recover and then he’ll be back to GNCC racing the following weekend at the Snowshoe GNCC.
The rumors are there will be more shakeups in regards to which riders for the FMF/KTM team will be racing what series as we’re hearing that Mike Brown won’t be at the WORCS Race this weekend at Race Town 395 in Adelanto, CA. Brownie will be spending the time instead to pepare and test for Baja. There have been rumblings for the past few seasons that the KTM team had been contemplating pulling out of that series and it’ll be very interesting to see if they decide to go back and race them moving forward. My thoughts are if they’re willing to pull a rider out of the series who currently sits 2nd in points (25 behind Kawasaki’s Taylor Robert) then more than likely they won’t be coming back. Update: We just got word from the WORCS practice going on today that Mike Brown and team FMF/KTM are not in attendance.
There was a bit of controversy at the Limestone 100 regarding Shenandoah Honda / Offroadchampions.com’s Thad DuVall being docked one position for venturing outside of the 25-feet allowed from the marked course. It was a definite bummer for Thad who was putting in a really solid ride and he actually crossed the finish line in 3rd in the XC1 class which would’ve been his first podium of the season. I’ve been to every GNCC since Thad DuVall turned pro and this is the first I’ve ever heard of something like this involving him so I don’t think it’s fair to call Thad cheater or anything like that, but unfortunately for him this incident happened right in front of course officials. There have been a ton of conspiracy theories on Twitter and Facebook regarding this so I’ll do my best to clear this up as best I can. First, this is one of the worst parts of the job for the track crew. The DuVall’s have been part of the GNCC family for a really, really long time so I’m not sure why anyone would think they “have it out” for Thad or his family because they don’t, but they have to be fair. Second, for those who have short term memory problems, AmPro Yamaha’s Paul Whibley was docked at the Ironman GNCC last year for a very similar situation so it’s not like anyone gets an exemption to this rule.
Before we close this out I have to give a shout out to FAR/Husqvarna’s Andrew DeLong on an impressive ride at the Limestone. As I mentioned earlier he and Steward Baylor were really going at it and pushing each other towards the top of the overall leaderboard. There’s been so much hype around Steward Baylor and his quest for an overall win from the second row but so far this year DeLong has come closest and he’ll have another solid shot next weekend at the Mountaineer Run GNCC which is supposed to be a gnarly, rocky course that’s right up his alley.
With that, I’ll wrap up this edition of the 411. Thanks for reading and I’ll see if we can’t round up as much rumor and gossip for next week’s edition!