The famed Steele Creek campground in Morganton, NC is one of the longest-running stops on the GNCC tour, and with its mountainous terrain always proves to be one of the toughest rounds as well. This year’s installment offered an extra challenge with nearly 2” of rain falling Saturday morning and into the race action Saturday afternoon.
With a record number of spectators lining the course, racing got underway Saturday morning with the fast and furious action in the 4×4 Pro class. Jordan Phillips held the lead through much of the race before BNR’s Robert Smith grabbed the top spot on the final lap, securing the win on his GBC Dirt Commander equipped Can-Am.
Rob Smith’s Dirt Commanders pulled him through the Steele Creek mud to a 4×4 Pro class victory and AM Overall.
“It feels great to finally get a win in this new class,” Smith said after his big win. “It’s so competitive out there but my Dirt Commanders pulled me through the slop and got me across the finish line first.” Rob’s performance also earned him the top Overall position out of more than 200 morning race competitors.
Following just seconds behind in 3rd place was multi-time 4×4 champ Bryan Buckhannon, whose consistent podium finishes have him in the points lead after 3 rounds of racing. Jordan Phillips put in a solid ride to secure 5th on the day.
GBC’s dominance in the 4×4 ranks was punctuated by Tanner Bowles grabbing another win the 4×4 A/B class, and Terry Whiteside topping the 4×4 Senior division.
In afternoon XC1 action there was a host of GBC racers up front as Kevin Yoho, Jeff Pickens and Jay Shadron were all battling within the top 5 positions throughout much of the race. When the checkers flew it was Yoho leading the way for GBC with his 4th place finish. “It was crazy out there today with all the mud and ruts but I can’t say enough about how awesome my GBC XC-Racers hooked up,” Yoho said after his season best performance. “I could go anywhere I wanted to even when others were stuck.”
Following only two seconds behind Yoho was XC1 rookie Jay Shadron in 5th place. Jeff Pickens ended up 9th after a race-long battle with four other riders. Johnny Gallagher rounded out the top 10.
Johnny Gallagher has finished in the top 10 in each round so far this season and leads GBC riders in the XC1 standings.
The XC2 class saw the closest racing of the day with more than seven riders running in the lead pack throughout the event. Randy Hamilton used his XC-Masters to jump out to an early lead with the holeshot award. Hamilton led the XC2 battle for much of the early stages and in fact even held the Overall lead ahead of all XC1 competitors after time correction on Lap 1. When the mud settled it was Martin Christofferson who grabbed the 5th place spot with Hamilton just behind in 6th after experience some mechanical gremlins late in the race.
Michael McAvoy topped the Junior A class for the second race in a row and also earned a career high 20th Overall against the top ATV off-road riders in the world.
Other notable finishes by GBC athletes include: Leroy Shook 2nd (Senior A/B), Bo Jones 3rd (4×4 A/B), Kara Merritt 3rd (WXC), Shane Pitzer 3rd (Schoolboy C), Kevin McKeown 3rd (College A), Art Blystone 3rd (Senior A/B), Todd Moskala 3rd (Vet B), Forrest Whorton 5th (4×4 Senior), Kendall Taylor 5th (WXC), and Nathan Hornacek 5th (Junior A)
We will next see GBC racers in action April 12-13 in Cross Anchor, SC for Round 4 of the GNCC Series. Be sure to visit www.GBCMotorsports.comto see our complete lineup of tires for sport and utility ATVs and Side-X-Sides, and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for more updates.