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2024 Big Buck GNCC | Race Report, Results & Recap Video


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The Grand National Cross Country Series kicked off its thirteen-round tour with the 2024 Big Buck GNCC in Union, South Carolina. The coming year should be one of the most best ever for the East Coast off-road championship, thanks to the list of capable and competitive title contenders, increasing support from motorcycle brands, and a hearty turnout of amateur participants and highly-engaged fans.

Johnny Girroir, Angus Riordan, and Rachael Archer picked up the wins in the pro divisions and will be the riders to beat when the series goes to Florida’s sand and black dirt for round two in early March.

On Sunday, February 18, 2024, the Progressive Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) Series presented by Specialized, an AMA National Championship, concluded its season opener at the VP Racing Fuels Big Buck GNCC in Union, South Carolina. The colder temperatures only made for more intense heated battles on the track throughout the course of the weekend. 

As the afternoon race got underway it was AmPro Yamaha’s Ricky Russell jumping off the line first to grab the $250 Steel City Medical Center XC1 Open Pro Holeshot Award to start his day. However, it didn’t seem to take FMF/KTM Factory Racing’s Jonathan Girroir long to make the pass for the lead as they made their way through the course on the opening lap.

Girroir would continue to hold the lead with Russell behind him in second for the first four laps of the race. Russell would unfortunately fall back to sixth as they came through the finish line with one lap remaining. Rocky Mountain Red Bear Steward Baylor had made the necessary moves coming from sixth place to third and then into second by the time the white flag was flying. Girroir was ahead by 25 seconds, but Baylor continued to push on as they came into the finish line it was Girroir earning his second career overall win with an 11 second lead over Baylor who earned second overall at the opening round in South Carolina. 

Babbitt’s Online/Monster Energy/Kawasaki Team Green’s Grant Baylor had his work cut out for him as he started back in the 14 place position on the first lap. Grant put his head down and kept on pushing as the laps continued on, Grant would make the necessary moves to put himself in contention for a podium on the last lap. Grant would make the pass on Coastal GASGAS Factory Racing’s Jordan Ashburn for third on the last lap, and ultimately crossing the finish line to earn the last podium spot. 

After running inside the top five for the duration of the race, Coastal GASGAS Factory Racing’s Jordan Ashburn had found himself in third place during the last lap, however, G. Baylor would make the pass stick on Ashburn before coming into the finish line. Ashburn would hold on to finish out the day fourth overall.

Blud Lubricants/Scott Goggles/FXR’s Evan Smith put in a great ride at the opening round of the 2024 season as he battled back from a 13 place start to the day to having his career best finish of fifth overall and in the XC1 Open Pro class. AmPro Yamaha’s Ricky Russell would have a good start to his day as he was running in second at the beginning, but would ultimately fall back to sixth in the XC1 class and eighth overall. 

Another rider having to battle back after a rough start to the day was Rockstar Energy Factory Husqvarna Racing’s Trevor Bollinger. As the race got underway, Bollinger would find himself back in tenth and then as far back as 14th on the second lap. However, Bollinger continued to push on and would make his way up to seventh in the XC1 class and tenth overall on the day. FMF/KTM Factory Racing’s Dante Oliveira returned to race some GNCC events while teammate, Ben Kelley, is recovering from surgery due to a lingering injury. Oliveira would remain inside the top ten of the XC1 competitors for the duration of the race as he crossed the line eighth in class. 

Aboard his new ride, JS7 Sherco Racing’s Josh Strang had his work cut out of him as he did not get off to the start he hoped for. Strang would come through at the back of the pack on lap one, but would steadily make his way up to inside the top ten of the XC1 class by the conclusion of the race. Strang would finish ninth in XC1, and would come through just outside of the top ten overall with a 12th overall finishing position. Phoenix Racing Honda’s Michael Witkowski would round out the top ten XC1 class finishers after three-hours of racing, and would find himself 13th overall at the season opener.

Unfortunately for the defending National Champion, Rockstar Energy Factory Husqvarna Racing’s Craig DeLong he would finish 11th in the XC1 class, and 14th overall on the day after running up in third for the first half of the race. DeLong would make a little mistake with two laps to go, ending in a significant crash which twisted up his bike. DeLong would try to push on but would fall back again before crossing the finish line. 

The XC2 250 Pro was an exciting one to watch at round one as FMF KTM Factory Racing Landers’ Angus Riordan and defending champion, AmPro Yamaha’s Liam Draper, went back-and-forth for the majority of the race. Draper would come from behind to make the pass on Riordan, but as the checkered flag flew it would be Riordan coming through just 2.2 seconds ahead of Draper to earn the win at round one. FMF KTM Factory Racing Landers’ Grant Davis would hold on to finish third in the class, and land himself on the podium. Team Enduro Engineering’s Josh Toth and XC2 rookie, Bells Electric Race Team’s Toby Cleveland would round out the top five finishers in the XC2 250 Pro class. 

Devore/KTM/FXR/SRS Suspension’s Dakoda Devore would come through to earn the FMF XC3 125 Pro-Am class win at round one in South Carolina. Devore would have to work his way up to first after running back in third on the opening lap. Halls Cycles/Walker Builders LLC/O’Neal’s Jhak Walker is the one Devore would need to pass as he held the lead position for the first three laps of the race. Walker would remain second as he crossed the finish line at the end of the race. Destructo Racing/Dixie Fuel/Prescription Tune Suspension’s Dustin Simpson had a consistent race in the FMF XC3 class at round one, cruising into land the last spot on the podium with a third in the class.

Earning the Top Amateur honor was Jason Tino, who came through in the 18th overall finishing position, and also crossed the finish line first in the 250 A class. Nicholas DeFeo came through 21st overall and took second on the Top Amateur Podium as he also scored second in 250 A. Gavin Simon rounded out the Top Amateur Podium as he came through in 23rd overall and third in the 250 A class. 

In the 10 am race it was the WXC racers taking off first with FMF KTM Factory Racing Landers’ Brandy Richards earning herself the first $100 Kanati Performance Tires WXC Holeshot Award. Richards would continue to lead the race for the opening lap before Rocky Mountain Red Bear Kawasaki’s Rachael Archer made the pass stick on Richards. Rockstar Energy Factory Husqvarna Racing’s Korie Steede would follow Archer, making the pass for second on Richards and look to battle for the win. 

As the race continued on, Archer would continue to hold the lead while Steede and Richards continued to push on behind her. Archer would come through to earn the first WXC bike win of the season, while Steede and Richards held on to round out the top three WXC podium. Cade Henderson of Sportsman A (12-24) class would come through first overall in the race.

2024 Big Buck GNCC | Union, South Carolina
Round One Results & Standings

XC1 Pro Event Results

1. Jonathan Girroir 
2. Steward Baylor 
3. Grant Baylor
4. Jordan Ashburn
5. Evan Smith
6. Ricky Russell
7. Trevor Bollinger
8. Dante Oliveira
9. Josh Strang
10. Michael Witkowski

Overall National Championship Standings

1. Jonathan Girroir | 30
2. Steward Baylor | 25
3. Grant Baylor | 21
4. Jordan Ashburn | 18
5. Evan Smith | 16
6. Angus Riordan | 15
7. Liam Draper | 14
8. Ricky Russell | 13
9. Grant Davis | 12
10. Trevor Bollinger | 11

XC2 250 Pro Event Results

1. Angus Riordan
2. Liam Draper
3. Grant Davis
4. Joshua Toth
5. Toby Cleveland
6. Thad Duvall
7. Jonathan Johnson
8. Jesse Ansley
9. Brody Johnson
10. Ruy Barbosa

XC2 250 Pro Series Standings

1. Angus Riordan | 30
2. Liam Draper | 25
3. Grant Davis | 21
4. Joshua Toth | 18
5. Toby Cleveland | 16
6. Thad Duvall | 15
7. Jonathan Johnson | 14
8. Jesse Ansley | 13
9. Brody Johnson | 12
10. Ruy Barbosa | 11

Michael Antonovich

Michael Antonovich has a wealth of experience with over 10 years of moto-journalism under his belt. A lifelong racing enthusiast and rider, Anton is the Editor of Swapmoto Live and lives to be at the race track.

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