News 7 Nov 2011

Mullins wraps up GNCC title, Strang injured and Price impresses

Charlie Mullins clinched the 2011 GNCC title for FMF KTM.

Charlie Mullins clinched the 2011 GNCC title for FMF KTM.

FMF KTM’s Charlie Mullins clinched the 2011 Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series during the first ever GNCC double-header at Loretta Lynn’s Ranch over the weekend.

Rewinding to Friday, Mullins suffered a mechanical issue near the end of a race that he indisputably dominated, while Paul Whibley and Australian defending champion Josh Strang closed the points gap on the American off-road racing star heading into Sunday’s finale.

Mullins proved that he could handle the pressure, though, riding his way to claim his first-ever GNCC XC1 title.

The win gave Mullins the XC1 title over New Zealand’s Whibley, who won the title in 2009. In fact, Mullins is the first American to win the GNCC title since Rodney Smith held it in 2004.

To put the significance of Mullins’ title in perspective, seven of the last 11 GNCC championships have been won by foreign riders, including the last five straight – Australia’s Shane Watts won it in 2000, Finland’s Juha Salminen held it from 2005 to 2006, David Knight from the Isle of Man was champ in 2007 and 2008, while Whibley and Strang claimed the titles in 2009 and 2010.

“It’s a dream come true,” said Mullins. “I’m really at a loss for words, right now. I’ve worked so hard and so many people have helped me along the way. There are so many people out there that helped make this happen and it feels really good to finally win it, it’s been a long time coming.”

Mullins put on an incredible display during the finale, while Kailub Russell, Cory Buttrick, Paul Whibley, and Josh Strang locked up in an intense battle for the runner-up position.

Strang washed out on the loose rocky start, sending him to the back of the pack early on but the defending champion pushed his way to fourth, just behind Buttrick and Whibley.

Unfortunately, Strang hit a set of tree roots that sent him to the ground and furthermore added to his string of bad luck in 2011, as the Aussie superstar’s day ended abruptly with a leg injury.

Russell took over second after his FMF KTM teammate Buttrick dropped out and after that, the pro class rookie never looked back, ending the race with nearly two minutes to spare over the seasoned Whibley.

Australian off-road star Toby Price finished fourth in just his second GNCC race of the season, improving from 10th on the opening day.

2011 Grand National Cross Country Series
Lorretta Lynns

Friday XC1 Results:
1. Paul Whibley (Yam)
2. Cory Buttrick (KTM)
3. Josh Strang (Suz)
4. Kailub Russell (KTM)
5. Russell Bobbitt (KTM)
6. Nate Kanney (KTM)
7. Scotty Watkins (Hon)
8. Jesse Robinson (Bet)
9. Kenny Gilbert (KTM)
10. Toby Price (KTM)

Sunday XC1 Results:
1. Charlie Mullins (KTM)
2. Kailub Russell (KTM)
3. Paul Whibley (Yam)
4. Toby Price (KTM)
5. Jesse Robinson (Bet)
6. Jedehiah Haines (Kaw)
7. Scotty Watkins (Hon)
8. Cody Webb (Bet)
9. Eric Bailey (Kaw)
10. Kenny Gilbert (KTM)

Final XC1 Standings:
1. Charlie Mullins 302
2. Paul Whibley 282
3. Josh Strang 266
4. Kailub Russell 227
5. Nate Kanney 192
6. Cory Buttrick 168
7. Thad DuVall 138
8. Jimmy Jarrett 127
9. Jedediah Haines 112
10. Mike Lafferty 105