New Zealand?s Rory Mead came into round five of the Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series as a silent sleeper, especially since he?s shown the ability to conquer courses with a heavy technical aspect.
The Can-Am Mammoth GNCC pumped up the potential to throw some curve balls into the overall points race with a unique ?old school? GNCC course that accompanied some of the most grueling obstacles this circuit has seen in a long time. Trail Boss Jeff Russell and his crew cut around 10 miles of fresh trail at the all-new Park Mammoth Resort in Park City, Kentucky and it was anyone?s game on the overall win, especially from the XC1 Pro division.
Rory Mead got out front right away after following fellow kiwi Paul Whibley on the first lap. Whibley once again grabbed the $250 Motosport.com Holeshot Award aboard his AmPro Yamaha YZF450 and battled with Mead early on, but it wasn?t long before defending champ Charlie Mullins made his way through the pack from a bad start.
Whibley and Factory FMF/KTM?s Mullins went back and fourth throughout the three-hour race, battling hard for the second place position. At times, the veteran duo would catch up to the leader and then Mead used the KTM 300 two-stroke to his advantage as he gained time in the tight rocky sections of the course. Mead?s win at The Mammoth marked the first overall win on a two-stroke since Nate Kanney?s performance at the 2008 Ironman. This was a big feat both for Mead and his two-stroke machine.
?"I was pumped it was a good race! I got a good start but followed Paul for a few laps and when I got by, just tried to pull away. You can only go so fast out there in the rocks, though, you don?t want to go down there,?" Mead said. ?"People were saying it wasn?t going to be that rocky and so I wasn?t sure if the two-stroke was the right choice but once we got out there and realized how rocky it was, I was pleased with it and the bike was good."
XC1 Pro Class Start. Photo By: Ken Hill
The FMF Power Point is a new obstacle this season and usually presents the roughest and toughest sections of the course, and this weekend it surely lived up to its name as riders struggled to power their machines up the rocky hillclimb section. Lapped riders became part of the obstacle through the gnarly rock section and riders soon found out that patience is a virtue in situations like that. But lappers didn?t seem to stop Factory FMF/KTM?s Kailub Russell as he picked off riders and moved through the pack, but as he made his way up to Shenandoah Honda/Offroad Champion?s Thad DuVall and AmPro Yamaha?s Jordan Ashburn, the ease went away and the trio put up a good fight for the fourth place position.
DuVall was forced to pull over with about two miles to go when he realized his rear wheel wasn?t going to hold up to the finish line. After his crew fixed the wheel, DuVall went on to finish twelfth in the class, marking only the first time the West Virginia boy has finished outside of the top five this season.
Big battles were taking place just outside the top five action and those were between the brand-new Obermeyer Yamaha ride of Chris Bach and the JG Offroad/American Honda ride of Nate Kanney, who pushed each other back and fourth all day long. Both Bach and Kanney have had a rollercoaster of a season so far, but after a few minor changes recently, they seem to have a whole new level of confidence and enthusiasm beginning with respectable sixth and seventh place finishes in Kentucky. And
Factory FMF/KTM?s Cory Buttrick started off as a podium contender once again but by the halfway point it seemed like Buttrick had fallen off pace. It?s been said that Cory is still recovering from a previous injury that happened at round four.
Round five of the 2012 Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series heads to Springville, Indiana May 12 and 13 for the Limestone 100 GNCC. For more information, go to www.gnccracing.com.
Main Photo: Rory Mead takes his first win Credit: Ken Hill
XC1 podium: Charlie Mullins, Rory Mead, Paul Whibley, Photo By: Ken Hill
XC1 Pro Results: Rory Mead (KTM) Charlie Mullins (KTM) Paul Whibley (YAM) Kailub Russell (KTM) Jordan Ashburn (YAM) Chris Bach (YAM) Nathan Kanney (HON) Cory Buttrick (KTM) Jimmy Jarrett (HON) Garrett Edmisten (KAW)
XC2 Pro Lites Results: Steward Baylor Jr (KTM) Andrew DeLong (HSQ) Jesse Robinson (HSB) Nick Davis (HSQ) Jedediah Haines (YAM) Brad Bakken (YAM) Jason Thomas (KTM) Scott Grills (HON) AJ Stewart (YAM) Cole Kirkpatrick (KTM)
XC1 Pro Standings: Paul Whibley (119/1 win) Kailub Russell (116/3 wins) Charlie Mullins (105) Rory Mead (80) (1/win) Thad DuVall (79) Cory Buttrick (77) Jordan Ashburn (68) Garrett Edmisten (65) Chris Bach (63) Nathan Kanney (58)
XC2 Pro Lites Standings: Steward Baylor Jr. (150/5 wins) Jesse Robinson (105) Jason Thomas (93) Jedediah Haines (80) Brad Bakken (79) Andrew DeLong (63) AJ Stewart (53) Cody Gragg (50) Scott Grills (48) Glenn Kearney (42)