GNCC

Juha wins final, Kearney takes series podium spot

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The terrain at the season-finale Klotz Ironman GNCC contains a mix of everything a Suzuki Grand National Cross Country rider will face. So it's only fitting that the dominant series' champion wins the race. And that's what Juha Salminen did, holding nearly a one-minute lead all the way to the finish. "It was a great track," said Salminen, the ten-time World Enduro Champion. "I like all the tracks here, but this was fun. I had a good race early, but I was able to hold the gap. This year has been great. I had a lot of fun here and the fans were very nice." Barry Hawk battled through a torrid fight for the runner-up spot to take second. He out dueled Mike Lafferty, Glenn Kearney, Paul Edmondson and his teammate Charlie Mullins. "I had just a little arm-pump early on, not too much, but just enough to where I couldn't charge really hard," said Hawk. "It took like three laps to get it out, and I knew Juha was getting away. I know you can't give him that kind of time." Mullins took third, the third podium in the last four rounds for the 19-year-old rookie pro. "This is better than I could have ever imagined," said Mullins. "Everything has worked out great for me, winning the 250 A Championship and then getting three podiums in four races. I got a good start today, but then I don't know what was wrong, I was just making so many mistakes I thought I wasn't even going to finish in the top ten! Then I finally started flowing." Mullins climbed into second for a moment before getting his YZ250 stuck in a ravine, allowing a pack to get past him. England's Paul "Fast Eddy" Edmondson was in that pack. After leaving the GNCCs in 2001, Edmondson made a solid return, running with Juha early and then holding on to fourth. Fifth went to Kearney on the FMF Suzuki, which was enough to clinch third in the final GNCC standings. "The conditions for the race were perfect with rain in the lead up to the event, said Kearney. "After about a top 8 start I got to the front of the pack and battled with Barry Hawk, Charlie Mullins and Paul Edmondson, before getting caught on a couple of hills and making a few mistakes and a costly crash. I was riding well but still haven't found the form I had before breaking my leg", he concluded. Salminen ends up with nine wins in 13 races, one of the most dominant seasons ever. "I will try to do the same thing next year," said the friendly Finn on the podium. "If I was going to start to party, I would have started doing that seven years ago. This is my work. But now it's back to the manhunt. I know it will be tough next year." FMF Suzuki's Rodney Smith, the 2004 GNCC Champion, got the holeshot and ran with Juha early. But he bent his shift lever in a rut. "I passed him in the woods, but then I stalled it," said Smith. "I was just charging trying to catch up and see him again, and I just got to that point. I wanted to ride with him. But I hit a rut and bent the shifter. I think I got a little bit overanxious there. But I felt good. Really good." Smith will be back in 2006, as will Hawk, a healthy Jason Raines, and Mullins, who has signed a pro contract with Yamaha. The season kicks off in Florida in March.
The Ironman GNCC- Crawfordsville, IN - Round 13
Place Racer Brand Laps
Elapsed
1 Juha Salminen KTM 7
02:59:42
2 Barry Hawk, Jr YAM 7
03:00:41
3 Charles Mullins YAM 7
03:01:10
4 Paul Edmondson HON 7
03:02:18
5 Glenn Kearney SUZ 7
03:03:00
6 Michael Lafferty KTM 7
03:03:17
7 Fred Andrews SUZ 7
03:03:34
8 Robbie Jenks KTM 7
03:05:44
9 Steve Hatch KAW 7
03:09:25
10 Jesse Robinson KAW 7
03:12:28
11 Scott Watkins KAW 7
03:13:03
12 Thaddeus Duvall YAM 7
03:13:14
13 Ryan Rodgers YAM 7
03:16:19
14 Stephen Edmondson KTM 7
03:17:02
15 Brian Lawson YAM 7
03:19:05
16 Nathan Alering SUZ 7
03:19:20
17 Justin Williamson YAM 7
03:19:42
18 Chris Gallt KAW 7
03:19:43
19 Travis Green KAW 7
03:21:29
20 Mike Mihalik HON 7
03:22:09
26 A Shane Watts KTM 6
02:50:54

Points after Round 13 - Final
Place Name Make
Points
1 Juha Salminen KTM
344
2 Barry Hawk, Jr YAM
270
3 Glenn Kearney SUZ
197
4 Charles Mullins YAM
187
5 Robbie Jenks KTM
167
6 Michael Lafferty KTM
144
7 Steve Hatch KAW
123
8 Brian Garrahan SUZ
103
9 Shane Watts KTM
103
10 Jason Raines YAM
102
11 Fred Andrews SUZ
102
12 Justin Williamson YAM
83
13 Chuck Woodford KAW
82
14 Nathan Kanney YAM
78
15 Stephen Edmondson KTM
69
16 Travis Green KAW
63
17 Scott Watkins KAW
60
18 Doug Blackwell SUZ
58
19 Jesse Robinson KAW
54
20 Scott Summers HON
54

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