GNCC Women’s Race Report: Wiseco John Penton
On May 26 and May 27 round seven of the 2018 AMSOIL Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) Series, an AMA National Championship took place. The Wiseco John Penton is hosted at Sunday Creek Raceway, a motocross track in Southern Ohio which frequently hosts Loretta Lyn’s Amateur National Motocross qualifiers. GNCC has been traveling to Millfield, Ohio, since 1990, and the round is named after John Penton, a great innovator and leader in American off-road racing who is also from Ohio. The soil is primarily clay that is slippery when wet and slippery when dry. When the ground is soft, deep ruts will often develop in the fast, flowing trails.
Saturday afternoon there was brief, but heavy rain. The Women’s Pro ATV riders (WXC) were not impacted, but between the first rainstorm and several more during the night, the WXC bike riders had to face extremely muddy and challenging conditions. One difficulty all the WXC riders had to grapple with was the heat. Temperatures reached the low 90’s, with plenty of humidity to go around. There were around 65 women and girls who competed at The Wiseco John Penton GNCC. Of these, Traci Pickens took home her third-straight win in the ATV WXC division on Saturday, while Mackenzie Tricker walked away with her first Bike WXC win of the season on Sunday.
In a slight change of pace, Traci Pickens pulled the holeshot this round, just ahead of Sadiee Gorrell and Megan Shepherd. Gorrell stalled her machine toward the end of the lap, allowing Shepherd to move into second and Kate Osburn to move into third. This foreshadowed how the rest of the race would shape up for Gorrell, as she struggled with mechanical issues most of the race before her ATV quit altogether with two laps to go.
There was a large degree of separation between most of the riders, meaning that they had no battles with any of their fellow WXC racers. All but the top two held the same positions that they did coming into the second of five laps. Shepherd placed third, several minutes down from second, calling her race “uneventful…. but in a good way” Kara Short placed fourth, again several minutes down, but without any significant battles during the race. Finally, the last top-5 spot was taken by a frustrated Jaida Phillips, who was eight minutes down from fourth because machine kept stalling randomly throughout the day, on top of getting caught in a nasty bottleneck.
Osburn said that in the early laps, she had trouble finding a groove and was riding alone. A faster rider coming from behind proved to be a blessing, as it gave her someone to chase and pace off of. A one-minute-and-thirty-second deficit dropped to thirty seconds by the end of lap three and only one second going into the last lap. This was helped by the fact that Pickens got a log jammed into her rear break, which locked it on. Although she and several bystanders had to remove it, some time was certainly lost. The two riders pushed hard throughout the last lap. Although Osburn was able to pass for the lead in the woods, Pickens passed her back in the last field section before the finish line, taking home the win.
In the Girls ATV class, Alexis Keyes won for a second time this season. Andrea Rodgers placed second, while Gabrielle Lemley made it on the podium again for the first time since Florida, after a long string of fourth place finishes. In the Women’s ATV race, Sydney Sams took home her first win of the season.
Addy Nible won her third UTV women’s class race in a row at the Wiseco John Penton, while Vickie Fowler took a season-best finish of second, and Sarah Golden rounded out the podium in third. Nible also took home an eighth place finish in the single-seat UTV division, with Becky Widdicombe one position behind her in ninth.