AMA Suzuki Grand National Cross Country Series Parts Unlimited/Moose/Maxxis/Wiseco/Klotz/FMF/Pirelli/ITP
(Alba's Chris Borich grabbed yet another Suzuki GNCC Series win after a thrilling two-hour duel with defending GNCC Champion Bill Ballance. Photo by Raymond Gundy.)
Union, SC - When it's all said and done, the battle for the 2005 Suzuki Grand National Cross Country Series ATV Championship may go down as the all-time best. At round five of the series, the Pirelli Big Buck GNCC in South Carolina, Alba's Chris Borich and Yamaha's Bill Ballance battled wheel-to-wheel all day once again, taking yet another fight for the win down to the final few corners. After two hours of racing, Borich made an incredible pass to get around the five-time GNCC Champion, get the lead, and take his third win of the season.
"We basically hooked up right off the start and got away from the pack, and me and him were just battling back and forth," said Borich. "I had the lead going on the last lap and he got by me. I knew toward the end I was going to try to set him up somewhere. In that field was all that I knew of, and I made my move there and got around."
Ballance enjoys what has become his stiffest challenge yet for a GNCC title. "Yeah we were pretty much hooked up from the word go," said the Kentucky-based champ. "We were battling on the last lap, and I was out front and felt pretty comfortable. So we jumped out onto that last field, and there were some lappers in front of me. That slowed me down and got me and Chris side-by-side, and I tried hammering through the next few corners with him but he was in the best line. I thought we were still going to pull it off, but we went into that final corner, and he had it squared off and went right around me. It's a heck of a battle, but it's a whole lot of fun too."
(Left: Five-time Suzuki GNCC Champion Bill Ballance led the Pirelli Big Buck GNCC late in the going. Photo by Raymond Gundy.)
With the win, Borich squeaks back out front in the GNCC standings, as the riders came into the race tied for the series lead. But with the way the "Killer B's" are fighting it out this year, the title may not be decided until the final turn of the last round of the season.
After another bad start, Team Polaris rider Matt Smiley charged to his third podium of the season. Four-Stroke Tech's Michael Houston was in the running for a podium spot all day until he tagged a tree, but his teammate Bryan Cook picked up the slack and battled Smiley for third.
"That was a pretty tough battle there on the last lap," said Smiley. "I know they were getting tired, and I was too, but I had a little more left in the tank. Houston was in front of us all, and he ended up hitting a tree. Then Bryan got around both of us. I was riding really aggressive with him, stalking him trying to find a way around. He left off for one second, and I was able to find my way around."
Cook, last year's GNCC Rookie of the Year, took his best finish of the season with fourth, and another Four-Stroke Tech rider, Chris Jenks, was fifth.
West Virginia's Adam McGill finished seventh overall, and won the Pro Am class.
In the morning ATV race, a pair of Four-Stroke Stock riders, Ohio's Chris Neal and Pennsylvania's Jarrod McClure, put on an incredible race. They battled right to the checkered flag, with Neal getting the class and overall win. In the Women's class, the ongoing rivalry between Alba's Traci Cecco and Suzuki/Troy Racing's Stephanie Parton continued, with Cecco holding on to win the race.
The Pirelli Big Buck GNCC was taped for an airing on the Outdoor Life Network, as races air every Tuesday at 5 p.m. EST.
The Suzuki Grand National Cross Country Series continues in two weeks with the legendary Suzuki Loretta Lynn's GNCC in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee.
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 www.GNCCRacing.com.