Career First: Duvall Wins Unadilla GNCC
GNCC - New Berlin, NY
Round 10 of the Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series saw a record number of nearly 1900 participants this weekend at the Unadilla Valley Sports Center in New Berlin, N.Y. Shenandoah Honda/Offroadchampion's Thad DuVall was the highlight of Sunday afternoon as he secured his first-career XC1 Pro Class win at the Can-Am Unadilla GNCC, giving Honda its first GNCC XC1 win since 2007. Meanwhile, JG Offroad/American Honda's Nate Kanney also earned his first podium finish of the year in his home state of New York, thus adding to the momentous day for Honda in GNCC Racing.
This season has been all about the highly contested XC1 championship battle between AmPro Yamaha's Paul Whibley and Factory FMF/KTM's Kailub Russell, with the occasional spoiler of WMR/KTM's Rory Mead. However, Round 10 added a fourth race-winner to the list and yet another new face to the podium for 2012. The field of talent runs far and wide in the XC1 division and with three rounds remaining in the 13-race series, all hands are on deck for the championship point battles.
DuVall has been within striking distance of a podium finish all season long but hasn't been able to break past a fourth place finish until Unadilla. After a long-time relationship with Factory Yamaha and the AmPro Yamaha team, DuVall took a chance on a brand-new Honda-backed ride for 2012 and has continued to put in some of the most consistent finishes of his pro career. Kanney made a similar switch to red this season, joining the already established JG Offroad team and both riders seem to fit most comfortably aboard the Honda CRF450.
"I probably rode one of the best races I've ever ridden today," DuVall said. "We made a few changes over the summer and it really panned out. I got hooked up with Shenandoah Honda and Offroad Champions after kind of joking around on Facebook saying I was going to have to get a real job this year and they came up with an awesome ride for me! I couldn't be happier with my program and the bike so I can't thank those guys enough for stepping up to help me."
Although points leader Paul Whibley didn't get the win, the veteran hasn't lost sight of the big picture, which is a second GNCC championship. Whibley kicked off the afternoon by grabbing the $250 Motosport.com Holeshot Award before taking the early lead with Russell, DuVall and defending champ Charlie Mullins. The top four diced back and forth throughout the first half of the race but bad luck soon plagued the Factory FMF/KTM camp as Mullins lost rear brakes and was forced to return to the pits to change them out. Russell fell back a few positions after crashing on the motocross track on Lap 3, which opened the door for Kanney and Obermeyer Yamaha-backed Chris Bach, who were previously battling for the sixth place position, to make their way to the front.
Kanney turned it up on Lap 6 when he took over the third place position, with Bach close in tow. The two battled back and forth for the final podium position but Kanney began to pull away from Bach near the end. Russell put a charge on to reclaim his fallen positions, eventually passing Bach on the final lap, finishing fourth place just behind Kanney.
"I came here confident I could win and of course I wanted to win but I'm just happy to put in a good ride in front of all the people that support me. It's just the same as getting a win for me," Kanney said. "The season is almost over but it's better late than never and it feels to good to give something back to all the people that help me out."
Bach maintained the fifth place spot, just ahead of AmPro Yamaha's Jordan Ashburn in sixth. Mullins bounced back from a brake issue to finish seventh, in front of of JG Offroad/American Honda's Jimmy Jarrett in eighth. Rory Mead and Japan National Cross Country champ Takeshi Koikeda rounded out the top ten.
Whibley finished a strong second to gain valuable championship points over Russell with only three rounds remaining.
"Thad and I were battling at the end and I broke my front brake lever on the last lap," Whibley said. "There was no way I could keep up with Thad after that, he was riding really good, so I just chose to back it down and try to ride with him and make sure to get some good points. Second is not what I was wanting but we'll take it."
XC1 Pro Results:
1. Thad DuVall (HON)
2. Paul Whibley (YAM)
3. Nathan Kanney (HON)
4. Kailub Russell (KTM)
5. Chris Bach (YAM)
6. Jordan Ashburn (YAM)
7. Charlie Mullins (KTM)
8. Jimmy Jarrett (HON)
9. Rory Mead (KTM)
10. Takeshi Koikeda (KTM)
XC1 Pro Standings:
1. Paul Whibley (253/3 wins)
2. Kailub Russell (240/4 wins)
3. Rory Mead (189/2 wins)
4. Thad DuVall (168/1 win)
5. Jordan Ashburn (147)
6. Charlie Mullins (143)
7. Chris Bach (139)
8. Garrett Edmisten (123)
9. Nathan Kanney (122)
10. Takeshi Koikeda (111)
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