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Tomahawk GNCC Women’s Pro Race Report

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Located in the scenic hills of rural New York, the Tomahawk is a well-known stop on the WYNOA (Western New York Off-Road Association) series, which many northern GNCC riders grew up riding. The most prominent feature of the event is several miles of wide, sweeping grasstrack which drifts up and down through the hills. In the woods, the trail is rough and beat up from many years of use, with a fair number of rocks and occasional tree roots. It also tends to be a little tighter than usual for a GNCC. This past weekend, the field sections were dusty as usual, but the woods were a bit muddy and exceptionally slick, adding to the challenges of the course. Another point of interest at the Tomahawk is the number of alternate lines throughout the woods, possibly because of the frequency of the races held there. The New York GNCCs are some of the most popular rounds on the circuit, which means despite the wide variety of line choices, the lappers are still a struggle.

Going into the first corner, it was the two Australians, Tayla Jones (Rocky Mountain/KR4/Husquvarna Performance) and Mackenzie Tricker (Bonanza Plumbing KTM), who battled for the holeshot. Tricker took the lead, but shortly thereafter both Jones and Becca Sheets (Fly/Maxxis/Seat Concepts/KTM) were able to pass her. Tayla’s lead was short lived though. A little while after entering the woods, she had a nasty crash – a rock she didn’t see kicked her back end out and caused the bike to highside. At this point, Sheets and Brooke Cosner (The Motorcycle Shop/Bell Powersports/Kenda/V3 Off-Road/Full Gas Fitness). both got around her. Sheets led the rest of the first lap and half of the second, with Cosner nipping at her heels.

At the halfway point of the second lap, the top women began to hit the bottlenecks. It was in one of these that Cosner passed for the lead. Sheets fell back a bit, and Jones, pushing hard to make up for lost time passed her as well. By the end of the second lap, she had powered around Cosner to take the lead. Once again though, Jones’ lead was short-lived. Midway through the third lap, she slid out on a root in a fast section and plowed a tree. Sheets took the lead, with Cosner again close behind. When asked what was going through her head, Tayla replied “After that second crash I knew that I just needed to calm down and focus on my own riding. Once I started riding my own race, I caught back up to the leaders and felt a lot better on the bike.”

Although Sheets got passed just before the white flag, she didn’t give up on this hard fought race. Though she “couldn’t catch a break” with the lappers, she prevented Jones from running away with the race, finishing less than 30 seconds down at the end. Cosner said that she lost sight of the top two and just couldn’t recover, but still rounded out the podium for a third place finish.

This was one of the most competitive and exciting races in the WXC class so far this season, with the top four riders dueling with each other most of the race. Sheets agrees, saying “This was a good race, with a lot of back and forth with the top four. It was nice to have a real race going on!” Hopefully we will see a similar battle between the top riders on Snowshoe Mountain in a little under two weeks.

Tomahawk WXC Results

1st Tayla Jones 2nd Becca Sheets 3rd Brooke Cosner 4th Mackenzie Tricker 5th Rachel Gutish

WXC Points (Unadjusted for drops)

1st Becca Sheets (132) 2nd Mackenzie Tricker (126) 3rd Tayla Jones (120)** 4th Rachel Gutish (100) 5th Brooke Cosner (68)

**Note that Tayla Jones has already used one of her four drops. Dropped races begin to take effect after nine completed rounds