(Yoshimura Suzuki's William Yokley notched his first win of the 2005 Suzuki GNCC Series on a muddy racetrack at historic Loretta Lynn's Ranch in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee.)
Hurricane Mills, TN - Rain dampened the ongoing battle for the 2005 Suzuki Grand National Cross Country Title, but it didn't harm the playful spirit of Yoshimura Suzuki's William Yokley. After Loretta Lynn's Ranch ended up almost completely underwater after rain Friday night, Racer Productions re-routed the track on Saturday, and Yokley charged to his first victory of the season. And in trademark Yokley fashion, the Kentucky boy crashed at the finish line, landed in a huge mud puddle, and started dancing and screaming in the mud to the cheers of all of his fans.
It was another classic moment from the William Yokley school of having fun while racing.
"It feels good!" yelled Yokley from the podium. "You had to ride a smart race because there was a lot of mud and water out there and a lot of places to get stuck. I have a lot of years riding in this stuff so I know where to go, but luck plays a big factor, too. I finally got luck on my side. Maybe I can keep this going and get back into the championship."
With such wild, muddy conditions to deal with, chaos ensued for most of the day. Yokley stayed smart and consistent while battling Yamaha's Bill Ballance, the five-time and defending GNCC Champion, and a mistake by Ballance on the last lap let Yokley slide past and take the win.
2004 GNCC Pro Am Champion Jeremy Rice finally got on his pro game by taking second overall, while Ballance scored valuable championship points by getting third.
"It went awesome," said a happy Rice. "I didn't get that great of a start but I just kept rolling forward. I was following Borich and Ballance there but it was a game of survival, and they made a few mistakes and I got around. It was wet and muddy, but it was fun."
(Heavy rain on Friday night left the majority of the intended GNCC track underwater. The course was rerouted)
Ballance was also happy with his ride. "We were having a good day out there and the bike was running strong," said Ballance. "But I made one big mistake on the last lap. I picked a bad line. This season has been a heck of a battle and I'm looking forward to the rest of the season."
The rain and mud had an impact on the battle for the Suzuki GNCC Title, as Ballance moves back into a tie with Alba Actionsports' Chris Borich for the series point lead. Borich was in the hunt all day, but he could only muster fifth in the grueling conditions. Fourth came Pro Am rider Scott Baron, who many thought had actually landed on the overall podium based on adjusted time. The Racer Productions scoring crew reviewed video of the finish to ensure the results were accurate, and Barron was credited with fourth overall.
"It was a wet race but I just kept plugging away," said Barron. "It takes a lot of determination. The track wasn't too bad, but it got really choppy and rough at the end."
No matter the conditions, Yokley's loyal fans were pumped to see their hero whooping it up on the podium after the race.
The Suzuki Loretta Lynn's GNCC was taped for an airing on the Outdoor Life Network, as races air Tuesdays at 5 p.m., Thursdays at 11 a.m. and Saturdays at 2 p.m. EST.
The Suzuki Grand National Cross Country Series continues in two weeks with the Wiseco John Penton GNCC in Millfield, Ohio.
The AMA-sanctioned Suzuki Grand National Cross Country series is America's premier off-road racing series. The 13-round series is produced exclusively by Racer Productions. Cross-country racing is one of the most physically demanding sports in the world. The nearly three-hour long GNCC races lead as many as 1500 riders through tracks ranging from eight to twelve miles in length. With varied terrain including hills, mud, dirt, rocks and motocross sections, GNCC events are tests of both survival and speed. GNCC featured sponsors include Parts Unlimited, Moose, Maxxis, Pirelli, Wiseco, Klotz, FMF and ITP, and riders compete for over $1.3 million in series prizes and contingency money. Associate sponsors include Moose Utility Division, Scott, Alpinestars, Öhlins, Cometic, Outerwears, Race Tools, Twin Air, SFB Racing, Thor, Motion Pro, MotoTee's, Warrior and Laeger's. Media Sponsors include Dirt Rider Magazine, ATV Sport Magazine and Racer X Illustrated. For more information log on to GNCCRacing.com.
Photo: Yokley.Jpg - Yoshimura Suzuki's William Yokley notched his first win of the 2005 Suzuki GNCC Series on a muddy racetrack at historic Loretta Lynn's Ranch in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee.
Water.jpg - Heavy rain on Friday night left the majority of the intended GNCC track underwater. The course was rerouted.
Suzuki Loretta Lynn's GNCC
Hurricane Mills, TN
1. William Yokley Tompkinsville, KY SUZ 01:37:04
2. Jeremy Rice Fombell, PA HON 01:37:13
3. Bill Ballance Oakland, KY YAM 01:37:16
4. Scott Barron New Cumberland, WV YAM 01:37:27
5. Chris M Borich Sunbury, PA HON 01:37:52
6. Chris Jenks Washington, WV HON 01:37:57
7. Adam McGill West Union, WV HON 01:38:21
8. Johnny Gallagher Aurora, OH HON 01:38:30
9. Andris Lagzdins Baltimore, MD ROL 01:39:40
10. Matt J Smiley Kunkletown, PA POL 01:39:58
11. Bryan Baker Knob Noster, MO HON 01:41:08
12. Duane Johnson Trenton, MO HON 01:41:48
13. Rhett Butler Oak Grove, MO HON 01:42:32
14. Bradley Page Tompkinsville, KY HON 01:42:39
15. Brandon Ballance Oakland, KY YAM 01:42:43
16. Brian Schmid Colden, NY HON 01:43:13
17. Scott Fleischhauer Mulberry, IN YAM 01:43:57
18. Bryan Hulsey Washington, MO YAM 01:44:14
19. Gregory Trew Middleburg, FL YAM 01:45:33
20. Michael Houston Hickory, NC HON 01:45:38
2005 Suzuki GNCC ATV Point Standings (After 6 of 13 rounds)
1. Chris Borich 147/3 wins
2. Bill Ballance 147/2 wins
3. William Yokley 120/1 win
4. Matt Smiley 107
5. Chris Jenks 96
6. Brandon Ballance 79
7. Adam Mcgill 73
8. Andris Lagzdins 69
9. Bryan Baker 63
10. Jeremy Rice 49