Note: Strang and Buttrick got tangled in a crash, here is the FB post from Cory B: We just got checked out of the hospital, got tangled up with Josh Strang. Have a major concussion, out for four weeks, but in good spirits. Thank you everybody!
Charlie Mullins climbed back into contention for this year’s XC1 title with an impressive win at the Can-Am Unadilla GNCC in New Berlin, New York – round 10 of the 2011 Can-Am Grand National Cross Series.
Mullins trailed FMF/Makita Suzuki’s Josh Strang by 14 points in the championship standings coming into the New York round. However, Strang was involved in a first-lap crash with FMF/KTM’s Cory Buttrick, which left Strang’s bike with a bent sprocket. It took three laps before the defending series champ was able to rejoin the race and at the end of the day he was only able to manage a 13th place finish. The combination of Strang’s 13th place finish and Mullins’ victory amounted to a 22-point swing in the title chase, and with five rounds remaining in the series Mullins now holds an eight-point lead in the standings over Strang, 190 to 182.
With rain threatening overhead, Am Pro Yamaha’s Paul Whibley kicked off the Unadilla race by grabbing the $250 Motosport.com Holeshot Award at the start. Mullins was quickly into the lead before the end of the lap followed closely by Kailub Russell as the FMF/KTM teammates engaged in a fierce battle that carried then clear of the rest of the field.
Mullins and Russell traded the lead several times over the course of the first few laps before Mullins picked up the pace at the midway point and broke free of the XC1-class rookie. From that point on, Mullins rode a lonely and solitary race out front while Russell did the same in second.
Behind the two front-runners, Beta rider Chris Bach settled into a solid third after the start and held the position for most of the race. However, just before the two-lap board came out, Bach came under fire from WMR Racing/Clockwork/Planet Fitness KTM’s Nate Kanney, who ended up making a pass on Bach. Whibley also pulled within striking distance of Bach and made a pass, before doing the same to Kanney to slip into third.
At the finish, Mullins took the win with a little over a minute to spare over Russell, while Whibley rounded out the podium ahead of Kanney and Bach.
“A boring race is a fun race as long as I’m in the lead,” said Mullins. “Kailub passed me coming out of the pits and his pace was pretty fast and I knew we were pulling away from everyone so I settled in behind him and then when I decided to go I just made a pass and from there I just kind of checked out and rode my own race.”
Mullins had a bird’s eye view of the Strang/Buttrick pass just after the start of the race.
“It was unfortunate what happened to Strang and Buttrick,” added Mullins. “I saw it and it was the worst crash I’ve seen in a long time. I hate to see that happen to anyone and I don’t like to profit from things like that but I was able to make up some points and with five races left it’s going to end up being a good battle.”
Unadilla marked the second race in a row that Russell has claimed the runner-up spot on the podium and it seems to be only a matter of time before the two-time XC2 champ will get his first XC1 win.
“I got a pretty bad start and I worked my way up real fast, but I had really bad arm-pump the first three laps,” said Russell. “I was trying my hardest to keep Charlie behind me because I knew as soon as he got around me he was going to check out since my arm was so tight that I couldn’t hold on.”
JG Off-road/GEICO Powersports Honda’s Jimmy Jarrett, who won this race last year, proved that he has recovered nicely from his mid-season injury by taking a solid sixth place finish, his best performance of the year.
Jordan Ashburn won the XC2 class.
Jedidiah Haines also claimed his best finish of the year, the Kawasaki rider ending the day in seventh ahead of JG Off-road/GEICO Powersports Honda’s Rory Mead.
Rounding out the top 10 was eight-time national enduro champ Mike Lafferty on his factory Husaberg, and KTM rider Kenny Gilbert.
Am-Pro/FMF/Yamaha’s Jordan Ashburn made a last-second pass on FAR Husqvarna’s Jason Thomas to take the win in the XC2 division, Ashburn’s second victory of the year. Thomas led most of the XC2 race after getting off to a good start. However, Ashburn rode a steady pace and stayed within striking distance. On the final lap, Thomas got caught up on a gnarly hill just before the finish, and Ashburn was able to find a smooth line around it to make the pass for the lead and take the win.
“I knew that hill might be a factor and on the last lap I didn’t know whether to go up it or go around it and I went straight up it and I should have gone around,” said Thomas. “My strategy was to keep Thomas in sight all day and wait for a mistake,” said Ashburn. “I couldn’t really catch him so I just hung out behind him and things just fell my way.”
Andrew DeLong rounded out the podium, making the third podium of the year for the Pennsylvania KTM rider.
Jason Thomas goes big.
XC2 points leader Steward Baylor Jr. had a rough day and had to come from behind after crashing early in the race to finish fourth. Meanwhile, JG Off-road/GEICO Powersports Honda’s Scotty Watkins rode a steady race for fifth.
Sixth place went to KTM rider Zack Nolan, with AJ Stewart (Yam), Jesse Robinson (KTM), Ryan Lojak (Yam) and Steven Squire (Yam) rounding out the top 10. FAR Husqvarna rider won the $100Motosport.com Holeshot award in the XC2 class.
Jason Klammer was the top “non-pro” in the afternoon race, finishing 14th overall and winning the Open A class on a KTM.