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Patton, PA (May 28, 2011) – Walker Fowler scored a rare feat at the Rock Run GNCC, round seven of the 2011 Can-Am Grand National Cross Country series in Patton, Pennsylvania. The Ballance Racing Yamaha rider is one of only a few XC2 Am Pro riders to score the overall victory at a GNCC against the XC1-class Pros.
Chris Borich was the first to cross the finish line in the inaugural running of the Pennsylvania race and the Rockstar Makita Suzuki rider finished first the XC1 division, but Fowler claimed the overall victory based on adjusted time. Although he started from the second wave with the rest of the XC2 class, Fowler completed the fast and rocky four-lap race just over 20 seconds faster than Borich, giving Fowler the overall win.
"This is more than awesome, I don’t even know how to feel right now," said Fowler. "Dustin Canipe was ahead of me after the start and he set a real good pace and we actually caught a lot of the Pros on the first lap. Canipe made a little bobble at the end of the first lap and I got around him and then I just put the hammer down."
Once Fowler latched on to the front-runners, he needed only to stay close the leaders to have a chance at the overall.
"There was a freight train of Pros up there and nobody was able to pass and I guess the pace up there wasn’t as fast as the guys in the back wanted to go and I just got up to them and paced off of them and made it happen."
Borich extended his lead in the XC1 division with his class win, which came after a last lap battle with round-six winner Brian Wolf. Borich moved into the physical lead in the race at the midway point and held off Wolf and Ballance Racing Yamaha’s Taylor Kiser to get to the checkers first.
"It was a pretty good battle behind me, Wolf got into second and we started rolling pretty good together," said Borich. "It’s always good to add to a points lead and I was happy to accomplish that today."
"Hat’s off to Walker, he rode well and deserved to win," added Borich. "The way that track was it was easier to catch up than to pull away."
Wolf wound up with the runner-up position in the XC1 division, which reinforced his win at the Indy 100, while Kiser rounded out the podium.
"I didn’t think there would be much passing going on today, but there was more than I thought there would be," said Wolf. "We got a bad start but worked up to second and then going into the white flag Borich was going to let me by in that field and I thought, ‘no way, it’s your turn to lead.’ I was close and then we hit a dust section and I had to take my goggles off. I had nothing for him after that."
Kiser’s podium was his third of the year, and it solidifies his third-place status in the series points.
"I got a pit board on the first lap saying Walker was coming and I thought, ‘oh, man, here we go.’ But the kid rode good and really happy for him," said Kiser. "We got off to a better start than we have been and the bike was working really good, we finally got it figured out, and we’ve finally got things going in the right direction."
Adam McGill finished fourth after getting off to a poor start, while his Foremost Insurance/Warnert Racing Can-Am teammate was right behind in fifth.
Johnny Gallagher matched his best finish of the year, putting his Yamaha into sixth, one spot better than JET Suspension Honda Donnie Ockerman.
GT Thunder rider Kevin Yoho was eighth, ahead of Yamaha-mounted Jeffrey Pickens.
ATV MX racer Derek Swartfager (Hon) turned a rare GNCC appearance into a solid 10th place finish.
Finally, Bryan Cook $250 Motosport.com Holeshot Award by beating the rest of the XC1 division to the first turn and held the FRE Racing KTM rider held the lead for a full lap, but ultimately dropped out of the race on the final lap and was credited with 11th.
With the overall win, Fowler also added to his string of XC2 victories, which now stands at six in a row. Gabe Phillips has been the most consistent of the rest of the XC2 division and the Greg’s ATV & Cycle Yamaha added another runner-up finish at the Rock Run, extending his lead over third place in the class standings by 23 points. Phillips was not happy with his finish, however.
"I got a lot of work to do and I’ll be ready for Snowshoe," said Phillips. "I was way back at the start, and I tried to run as hard as I could and pick people off as fast as I could."
Matt Hanna returned to the series after taking time to start a family and put his Yamaha on the podium in third.
Honda rider Nathan Thomas scored his best finish of the year with a fourth, beating out $100 Motosport.com Holeshot Award winner Patrick McGuire, who was fifth in a Greg’s ATV & Cycle Yamaha.
Suzuki rider Scottie Rich finished sixth, topping a trio of Honda riders, Eric Hoyland, Dustin Canipe and Parker Jones, while Matt Pierce rounded out the top 10 on a Yamaha.
Braden Henthorn was the top finishing "non-Pro" rider, winning the College A (16-21) class with a 17thoverall finish on a Honda.
In the A.M. race, Dave Simmons (Yam) won the $100 GT Thunder Amateur Overall and topped the Masters (50+) class as well.
Traci Cecco (Yam), Kristen Atwell (Yam) and Angel Atwell (Hon) finished first, second and third, respectively in the Women’s class and also filled second through fourth in the overall standings.
Bryan Buckhannon (CAN) got his third win of the year in the 4×4 Open division, beating out Daryl Rath (POL) and Richard Cecco (CAN). In the meantime, Clifford Beasley topped the U2 class, beating out fellow Can-Am racer Robert Smith and Kawasaki rider Robert O’Brick.
In the Youth race, Hunter Hart (Cob) added another overall win to his pedigree and topped the 90 Open (8-11) class in the process. Zachary Jones was second overall and first in the 90 Open (12-15) class, while Charlie Welch was third overall and second in the 90 Open (12-15) class.
The Girls (8-15) class was won by Alyssa Oplinger on a Yamaha, with Kira Campbell (APX) second and Gabriella Espinosa (Hon) third.
The 2011 Can-Am Grand National Cross Country series heads to Snowshoe, West Virginia for the MotoSport.com Snowshoe GNCC on June 25 & 26. ATV racing will take place on Saturday, followed by bike racing on Sunday.
1. Chris Borich (Suz)
2. Brian Wolf (Hon)
3. Taylor Kiser (Yam)
4. Adam McGill (CAN)
5. Chris Bithell (CAN)
6. Johnny Gallagher (Yam)
7. Donnie Ockerman (Hon)
8. Kevin Yoho (Yam)
9. Jeffrey Pickens (Yam)
10. Derek Swartfager (Hon)
1. Chris Borich (161 points/4 wins)
2. Adam McGill (133/1 win)
3. Taylor Kiser (121)
4. Chris Bithell (116)
5. Brian Wolf (100)
6. Bryan Cook (82)
7. Donnie Ockerman (82)
8. Jarrod McClure (77)
9. Kevin Yoho (74)
10. Johnny Gallagher (64)
1. Walker Fowler (Yam)
2. Gabe Phillips (Yam)
3. Matt Hanna (Yam)
4. Nathan Thomas (Hon)
5. Patrick McGuire (Yam)
6. Scottie Rich (Suz)
7. Eric Hoyland (Hon)
8. Dustin Canipe (Hon)
9. Parker Jones (Hon)
10. Matt Pierce (Yam)
1. Walker Fowler (180 points/6 wins)
2. Gabe Phillips (126)
3. Eric Hoyland (103)
4. Patrick McGuire (100)
5. Parker Jones (96)
6. Aarol Bright (88)
7. Dustin Canipe (87)
8. Matt Hanna (76)
9. Richie Brown (64)
10. Nathan Wallpe (57)
Motosport.com $250 XC1 holeshot – Bryan Cook
Motosport.com $100 XC2 holeshot – Patrick McGuire
About GNCC Racing:
The Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series is America’s premier off-road racing series. Founded in 1979, the 13-round championship is produced exclusively by Racer Productions. Cross country racing is one of the most physically demanding sports in the world. The grueling three-hour GNCC races lead as many as 1,800 riders through tracks ranging in length from eight to 12 miles, competing for more than $3 million in prizes. With varied terrain, including hills, woods, mud, dirt, rocks and motocross sections, GNCC events are tests of both survival and speed.