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GNCC Racing

Borich in Must-Win Situation Heading to ITP Power Line Park GNCC in Ohio

Chris Borich
Chris Borich

St. Clairsville, OH – East Coast ATV’s Chris Borich wanted to avoid this, but his back is up against the wall again in the Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series. A few weeks ago Borich held the series points lead after grabbing two-straight GNCC wins, and  the Sunbury, PA native appeared to have seven-time and defending GNCC Champion Bill Ballance against the ropes in the battle for the ’07 title. But Borich blew a shock at last week’s race in North Carolina, which left the 25-year-old limping to the finish line in 17th. Factory Yamaha’s Ballance took the points lead back, and Borich must win the next two races to stop his rival’s historic quest for an eighth-straight title.

“I wasn’t too happy after the last one,” said Borich in his trademark understated fashion. “I just need to win the next two and hope that someone gets in there and beats ‘old Billy boy at one of these. Basically all the pressure is on him. If a DNF happens to me it’s all over, so I can just go for it. I know I can win these two races, I’ve done it before, so I just have to hope one of these other guys gets in there.”

If Borich wins the final two rounds of the series—this Saturday’s ITP Power Line Park GNCC in St. Clairsville, Ohio, and the finale two weeks later in Indiana—and Ballance takes second both times, Ballance will still win the championship. If Borich wins both and Ballance takes only a second and a third, Borich wins the title. Ballance hasn’t finished off the podium all season.

Luckily for Borich, there’s plenty of talent that can finish between him and Ballance. The list starts with LTERacing.com’s Chris Bithell, the 19-year-old who collected his first GNCC win last weekend. Bithell won that race after holding off a determined Ballance on the last lap. Bithell also rides and trains with Borich, so no doubt the youngster would like to help his friend in the quest for a title.

Bithell’s fellow pro sophomore, Adam McGill, would also like to take a bite out of the podium, and he honestly doesn’t care what points he takes doing it—the 20-year-old just wants to win. After leading several laps in Pennsylvania and New York, McGill had an off day in North Carolina and could only muster sixth overall. Expect a rebound this weekend as the series heads closer to his West Virginia base.

Borich also has a teammate who is no slouch—and no stranger to battling Ballance. Matt Smiley’s renaissance season has produced a climb from 19th in the series last year to fourth in points this time, and “Mr. Consistency” is always in the hunt no matter what terrain the series races on.

As a final wild card—but this one on Ballance’s side—GT Thunder Yamaha’s Brandon Sommers will make his pro debut after a dominating season in the XC2 Pro Am class. The Ohio rider surely won’t hurt his fellow Yamaha rider in points, but there’s still plenty of anticipation to see how the hard-working Sommers will fare when racing on the front row. Meanwhile, his XC2 class is now wide open, with Don Ockerman, David Crane and Ryan Lane looking to break through on Saturday.

There are plenty of other contenders as well, including GT Thunder’s Chris Jenks and Duane Johnson. Both struggled mightily in 2007 after finishing third and fourth in points last year and need to end the year strong. And one of these days, Monster Energy/National Guard/Kawasaki’s William Yokley will uncork a good finish. The multi-time GNCC race winner and crowd favorite hasn’t scored a podium yet this season.

All of those pro riders race at 1 pm on Saturday. The day also includes a 10 a.m. race with Utility, Women, Sport, Super Senior and Novice racers. The Open 4x4 title is still wide open, with a trio of Can-Am mounted riders—Rick Cecco, Bryan Buckhannon and Scott Kilby—trading wins and points all season long. Buckhannon needs a win this weekend to stave off Cecco’s championship clinch, and he did deliver one at the previous race in North Carolina. The other 4x4 classes are wrapped up. Michael Benson took Utility Unlimited on his Four-Stroke Tech Kawasaki KFX700, and Warnert Racing Can-Am teammates Cliff Beasley (Utility Lites) and Michael Swift (Utility Limited) won their crowns.

The Women’s class is out there in the morning, too, and Yamaha’s Traci Cecco has been battling LTERacing.com’s Angel Atwell tooth and nail all season. Cecco has the title clinched, but Atwell has won three rounds in a row and appears to be on the top of her game.

Dirt bikes will follow the ATV show on Saturday with their own program on Sunday, featuring international talent like David Knight. Knight, from the Isle of Man in the United Kingdom, holds just a 12-point lead over Am Pro Yamaha’s Barry Hawk with two races to go in the series. Ohio’s own Charlie Mullins won last weekend’s race in North Carolina and also the previous series’ stop in Ohio back in June.

Tickets for the event cost $12 for the full weekend, with ATVs racing throughout the day on Saturday and bikes on Sunday. Children five and under are free. To get to the track, Take exit 213 off Ohio I-70 to Route 331 N., roughly 15 miles from Wheeling, W.Va. For more information, log on to www.gnccracing.com.

Can-Am Grand National Cross Country ATV Series Overall Standings
(After 11 of 13 rounds)

1. Bill Ballance 287/4 wins
2. Chris Borich 274/6 wins
3. Chris Bithell 212/1 win
4. Matt Smiley 166
5. Adam McGill 160
6. Taylor Kiser 148
7. Brandon Sommers 139
8. Bryan Cook 119
9. Chris Jenks 110
10. Duane Johnson 104

About GNCC Racing:
The AMA/ATVA-sanctioned Can-Am 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 1,800 riders through tracks ranging from eight to twelve miles in length. GNCC Racing airs weekly television shows on Versus (formerly Outdoor Life Network) every Saturday at 3 p.m. and Thursday at 4 p.m. beginning on April 14. With varied terrain including hills, woods, mud, dirt, rocks and motocross sections, GNCC events are tests of both survival and speed. GNCC featured sponsors include BRP Can-Am, Parts Unlimited, Moose, Maxxis, Pirelli, Wiseco, Acerbis, Elka, Geico, Klotz, FMF, ITP and Weekend Warrior, and riders compete for over $3 million in series prizes and contingency money. Associate sponsors include Alpinestars, Cometic, EK Chain, HiPer Technology, Laegers, Moose Utility Division, The National Guard, Powersport Grafx, Race Tools, REM, Scott, Thor, Tire Balls, Twin Air, and MotoTee’s. Media Sponsors include Racer X Illustrated, ATV Rider, ATV Sport, ATVRiders.com, Quadzone.com, Dirt Rider and ATV Insider. For more information log on to
www.gnccracing.com.


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