Crawfordsville, IN - Yoshimura Suzuki's William Yokley ended the long, grueling Grand National Cross Country season in the same place that he started it: in victory lane. The popular character from Tompkinsville, Kentucky had to fight through a muddy course and yet another incredible challenge from Pennsylvania's Chris Borich and Yamaha's GNCC Champion Bill Ballance to take a hard-earned Klotz Ironman GNCC win.
"It feels great to win this one," said Yokley. "This race is named after a great man, Bob Sloan, who was a real hero of mine growing up, so every time I get up here I dedicate it to him. I didn't even get the lead today until the last lap, I just played it smart and stayed up front. But toward the end, Chris flipped it over in a field section, and I was lucky to get a good lead and bring it home. I love this race, baby!"
Borich had won three GNCCs in a row heading to Indiana, but he came up just short of a fourth. "All three of us were just having a great battle out there, and I guess I just came out of a corner and got on the gas too early, because I waffled a tree with my rear tire and flipped it," said Borich. "I was almost a minute down, and I just charged all the way in, but I couldn't catch William."
Chris Jenks made the jump from the Pro Am to the Pro class and made it a good one with third overall. "I got a bad start, but I picked some good lines and had a lot of luck getting through the creeks, so I had fun," said Jenks. "I'm notorious for getting bad starts, so getting to start on the front row was a big deal for me."
As for Ballance, the champ suffered his first mechanical problem since switching to the Yamaha YFZ450 over a year ago when he overheated the engine. "I got hung on the third lap, and I pulled in for goggles and gloves, but I was able to get all the way back into the lead," said Ballance. "Then it started to steam and I could tell it was running hot. I started to lose power, and William got by me. Then it died. But we can't complain, this Yamaha has been reliable for us all year long."
Once again, three different brands landed on the podium, which has happened at each of the last four rounds this season.
The Ironman is always one of the toughest rounds of the series, but heavy rain on Saturday morning made things even tougher. The course got slick and the creeks and mud holes got deeper, but it wasn't enough to slow Yokley and company from charging to the finish.
The ATVA-sanctioned Grand National Cross Country series is America's premier off-road racing series. The 14-round series is produced exclusively by Racer Productions. One of the most physically demanding sports in the world, the nearly three-hour long cross-country races lead as many as 1300 riders through tracks ranging from eight to twelve miles in length. With varied terrain including hills, mud, dirt, rocks and motocross sections, GNCC races are tests of both survival and speed. GNCC featured sponsors include Parts Unlimited, Moose, Maxxis, Yamaha, Wiseco, Klotz, FMF, Dunlop and ITP, and riders compete for over $1.3 million in series prizes and contingency money. Associate sponsors include Moose Utility Division, Scott, Alpinestars, Cometic, Outerwears, Pro Armor, Race Tools, Twin Air, SFB Racing, Thor, Racer X Illustrated, EFM, Motion Pro, Tire Balls, GPR Stabilizer. Moto-Tee's, Warrior and Laeger's.
Photo: William Yokley slithered through the mud on his Yoshimura Suzuki en route to his third GNCC win of the season at the Klotz Ironman GNCC. Photo by Mike Nichols.
GNCC ATV Overall Top Ten
Klotz Ironman GNCC, Crawfordsville, IN
1. William Yokley Tompkinsville, KY (Suz)
2. Chris M Borich Sunbury, PA (Hon)
3. Chris Jenks Washington, WV (Yam)
4. Gregory Trew Middleburg, FL (Yam)
5. Matt J Smiley Kunkletown, PA (Yam)
6. Santo Derisi Casar, NC (Yam)
7. Jeremy Rice Fombell, PA (Hon)
8. Jathan Seale Sparkman, AR (Hon)
9. Jared T Gruca Massillon, OH (Yam)
10 Chris P Bithell Irwin, PA (Hon)
GNCC ATV Points Standings (After 14 of 14 rounds)
1. Bill Ballance (320/7 wins)
2. William Yokley (262/3 wins)
3. Chris Borich (239/2 wins)
4. Matt Smiley (231)
5. Chad DuVall (176)
6. Bryan Cook (155/1 win)
7. Chris Jenks (134)
8. Jeremy Rice (153)
9. Brandon Ballance (119)
10. Greg Trew (117)