Mullins Wins GNCC Championship
After a long season, Charlie Mullins is the GNCC champion, putting in a dominant performance in the final race to take home the title.
Mullins had the lead going into the final race of the year, but ran into trouble during the first race on Friday. A mechanical issue forced Mullins to fall all the way back to fourteenth overall, putting his championship win in jeopardy.
However, there were no such issues during the final race on Sunday, as Mullins shot out to an early lead and built up a dominant position throughout the race. By the end, Mullins was out in front by more than 2 minutes and had the championship locked up.
"It's a dream come true," Mullins told Cycle News. "I'm really at a loss for words, right now. I've worked so hard and so many people have helped me along the way. There are so many people out there that helped make this happen and it feels really good to finally win it, it's been a long time coming."
With the win, the FMF/KTM rider became the first American rider to triumph in the competition since Rodney Smith took home the trophy in 2004.
First American GNCC XC1 KTM Champion in 16 years
Factory FMF/KTM rider Charlie Mullins made history when he clinched his first pro career GNCC XC1 Championship at the famous Loretta Lynn’s MX Park after taking the race win in the final race of the series. Not only was it Mullins first career XC1 championship, but he is the first American KTM rider to win the XC1 title since Scott Plessinger earned the title in 1995.
Over the course of the season Mullins earned 6 race wins and 4 additional podium finishes in route to his championship title. This victory did not come easy to Mullins as many race fans witnessed during Friday’s race. Mullins overcame heartbreak when his bike quit with one lap to go in Friday’s moto. The team rallied together to solve the issue and put Mullins back in the game on Sunday.
It was up to Mullins to do the rest. Mullins nailed the holeshot from a middle starting position and led the riders as they entered the woods. Mullins, his teammate Kailub Russell and Paul Whibley battled the first lap trading the number one spot. Once the riders entered the motocross track, Mullins took over. He easily made a pass on Whibley as they entered the motocross course and pulled to a 7 second lead by the time they went back in the woods.
Mullins never let off the gas and went on to stretch his lead to nearly 3 minutes by the end of the 3-hour race. Mullins was able to give a high-five to his dad as he crossed the finish line before he was surrounded by family, friends and fans all ready to hug and congratulate the champion. Mullins teammate, Russell, went on to earn 2nd place for the day while Whibley rounded out the podium.
“I can’t explain how much this championship means to me,” remarked Mullins. “This is the championship I have worked for since I was a kid. This is the reason I ride and the reason I train. It feels so good to finally win this title.”
With this championship in the bag, KTM has now swept every major off-road championship title in the 2011 season. This is only the second time in history that a manufacturer has accomplished this feat.
“We are very proud of Charlie and all of our riders this season. We have had a tremendous season and could not have asked for better results. We are happy to say that all of our team riders are returning for next year and we plan to defend all the titles we earned,” stated Factory FMF/KTM Team Manager Antti Kallonen.
The only downfall to the weekend was a mid-race injury from FMF/KTM rider Cory Buttrick. The Ohio-native had earned 2nd overall during Friday’s race and was again running in the runner-up position until the halfway mark when he suffered a crash. He landed on a large rock which resulted in an injured hand. Buttrick was taken to the hospital for further evaluation. Please visit www.ktmusa.com for the updates on his injury.
Overall Results XC1:
- Charlie Mullins
- Kailub Russell
- Paul Whibley
- Toby Price
- Jesse Robinson
- Jedediah Haines
- Scott Watkins
- Cody Webb
- Eric Bailey
- Kenneth Gilbert
Overall Points XC1:
- Charlie Mullins – 302
- Paul Whibley – 282
- Joshua Strang – 266
- Kailub Russell – 227
- Nate Kanney – 192