News 10 Mar 2014

Mullins wins GNCC opener as Strang storms to podium

Aussie shines during dramatic start to the GNCC season in Florida.

Image: Ken Hill.

Image: Ken Hill.

Factory FMF/KTM’s Charlie Mullins won a gruelling Mud Mucker GNCC race to open the 2014 AMSOIL Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) Series in Florida on Sunday.

Rocky Mountain ATV/MC AmPro Yamaha’s Josh Strang shot out to grab the holeshot, with AmPro Yamaha’s Paul Whibley and Rockstar Energy/WMR/KTM’s Ryan Sipes close behind.

Incredibly, the riders who dominated last year’s championship, the FMF/KTM duo of Mullins and defending GNCC National Champion Kailub Russell, were down in a heap in turn one.

XC1 Pro Class contenders Steward Baylor and Andrew Delong were down as well, setting up drama-filled charges through the pack.

Mullins wouldn’t be denied, however. The 2011 GNCC champ quickly made his way from nearly last into the lead position by the second lap. From there, Mullins engaged in a heated battle with Whibley that lasted for nearly an hour, with Whibley, the two-time champion from New Zealand, getting the lead back.

Down the stretch, Mullins made the right moves to get away, completing an impressive charge from down on the ground to the center of the Maxxis Victory Lane.

Whibley, who spent much of last year battling an injury, was happy to start the year with a solid second place finish.

A furious battled for third emerged between Strang and’s Thad DuVall. They battled down to the final field section, with Strang grabbing the final podium position by less than one second.

DeLong and Baylor also put in strong comebacks to capture fifth and sixth overall. Whibley’s N-Fab/AmPro Yamaha teammate Jordan Ashburn was seventh, with Sipes, in his full-season GNCC debut, showing impressive speed and strength to score eighth place in the class.

As for Russell, he, like Mullins, worked his way all the way back to the lead pack, but ran into mechanical problems on the muddy course. Fighting through the adversity and nursing it home for points, he salvaged 14th overall.

2014 Grand National Cross Country Series
Round one – Bunnell, FL

XC1 overall results:
1. Charlie Mullins
2. Paul Whibley
3. Josh Strang
4. Thad DuVall
5. Andrew Delong
6. Steward Baylor
7. Jordan Ashburn
8. Ryan Sipes
9. Kailub Russell
10. Takeshi Koikeda

XC1 championship standings (after one round):
1. Charlie Mullins 30
2. Paul Whibley 25
3. Josh Strang 21
4. Thad DuVall 18
5. Andrew Delong 16
6. Steward Baylor 15
7. Jordan Ashburn 14
8. Rory Mead 13
9. Ricky Russell 12
10. Shane Hufford 11