Crawfordsville, Indiana (October 22, 2012) – The penultimate round of the Can-Am GNCC series, the annual favorite Ironman, would prove to hold challenges for the American Honda JG Off Road team but despite setbacks, the weekend held some nice surprises.
Team co-owner JT Bennett returned to competition after an almost year and a half hiatus, when a leg injury and subsequent surgery kept him from racing. Bennett’s first time out in the morning race would yield him 6th in the Sportsman A class.
“Everything just fell into place in Indiana,” Bennett said. “My knee is at 90 percent, and then we had some rain out there so it was right up my alley. We had a spare bike so the guys talked me into it and I had an absolute ball.”
“They did a beautiful job with the track and the conditions,” Bennett continued. “It reminded me of the races in the early 90s. Everyone could make it around the track, but some sections you had to slow up and think about what you were doing so you didn’t get in trouble. Thank you to the fans, too. There were a ton of people cheering and making a lot of noise. I miss those days. It was a kind of a flashback for me and I enjoyed it.”
On the bike side, Scott Grills would carry the flag for the team again, as he went for a consistent fourth place finish in the XC2 class, his second in a row.
“This was more of a physically demanding race for me,” Grills said. “I struggled a little bit in the beginning in the first four laps for some reason but I pretty much I rode my own race. The first lap I crashed, and then I was kind of back and forth the first three laps. Everything felt great and worked pretty well. I don’t have any complaints. All in all it was a pretty good day.”
While veteran rider Jimmy Jarrett didn’t quite have the day he would have liked in XC1, he was able to help out fellow racer Paul Whibley make it to the finish line.
Jarrett started off his race colliding with Charlie Mullins when they converged after the trail split on the first lap. After four laps, Jarrett’s bike began to sputter and he pulled over to do some work. After getting the red machine powered up he ran into clutch issues five miles later, and decided to use his time spectating, and helping those gunning for the championship.
“When they came around, Whibley was leading and ran out of gas literally right in front of me,” Jarrett said. “So I ran over and asked what was up and he told me he thought he had run out of gas. So we found a Miller Genuine Draft can and started dumping fuel from my bike to his. After a few minutes he was off. After that my bike started and I had just enough gas to get me home. It was a crazy day.”
Kanney’s race in XC1 had a promising start, as he was third going into the first turn. But the first river section of the grueling track created his first problems.
“I hit a rock under the water and had a pretty big crash, and went face and hands down in the water,” Kanney said. “I picked the bike up to catch up to the lead group but shortly thereafter my clutch failed. I have a hydraulic clutch kit and I don’t know if I damaged the system but the fluid all come out and my clutch and that was it for me. I’m pretty bummed out about it. Thad did well and it was nice to see a Honda up there and Scotty did well.”
Wolf also would struggle with his clutch early into his race on Saturday after a strong start on the first lap that saw him in the lead at one point.
“Before the Ironman Hill Climb, I got into the lead at one point and then my clutch started to go out,” Wolf said. “I came into the pits on the second lap and they adjusted my clutch. I went another lap and I wasn’t even able to do the next lap, and had to be towed back in. It really sucked. I had worked hard to get ready for this weekend and it just wasn’t my day. We’ve got Loretta’s in two weeks and I have that last chance to put it on the podium. I’m going to work hard and make it happen.”
“Our 450 guys had a tough go at it,” Bennett said. “The mud was definitely an issue out there. It was sticky and obviously took a toll on our guys with the clutches. They all had problems with the clutches. It was a tough go for those guys. Brian is doing all the right things but it’s one of those years where the luck isn’t falling his way. He’s keeping his head up and we know if he keeps up all his good work we’re going to see him on the podium. The same goes for our young guy Scott Grills. We let him carry the flag for the team again this race and he’s doing a great job.”
“It was good to see Jimmy throw a hand to Paul,” Bennett continued. “That’s just the way Jimmy is. Even though he was struggling, he stopped to help someone who was in contention.”