Less than thirty minutes away from the Daytona Bike Week festivities, the 2014 AMSOIL Grand National Cross Country Series presented by Maxxis and sanctioned by AMA, kicked off its 13-round series with the inaugural running of the Moose Racing Mud Mucker GNCC.
The event held true to its name as Sunday's motorcycle competition saw some of the most grueling conditions in cross-country racing. After three hours of battle, Factory FMF/KTM's Charlie Mullins edged out a stacked field of XC1 Pros to capture the first overall win of the 2014 season.
Sunday's Mud Mucker GNCC was one of the most highly anticipated season openers in recent history. Rocky Mountain ATV*MC/AmPro Yamaha's Josh Strang shot out to grab the $250 All Balls Racing XC1 Holeshot Award, with AmPro Yamaha's Paul Whibley and Rockstar Energy/WMR/KTM's Ryan Sipes close behind.
Incredibly, the riders who dominated last year's championship, the Factory/FMF/KTM duo of Mullins and defending GNCC National Champion Kailub Russell, were down in a heap in turn one, complete with bent bars and parts sent flying everywhere. XC1 Pro Class contenders Steward Baylor and Andrew Delong were down as well, setting up drama-filled charges through the pack.
Mullins wouldn't be denied, however. The 2011 GNCC champ quickly made his way from nearly last into the lead position by the second lap. From there, Mullins engaged in a heated battle with Whibley that lasted for nearly an hour, with Whibley, the two-time champion from New Zealand, getting the lead back.
Down the stretch, Mullins made the right moves to get away, completing an impressive charge from down on the ground to the center of the Maxxis Victory Lane. Mullins also claimed an extra $150 by laying down the KR4 Performance Fastest Lap Award on Lap 2.