Zakowski Takes 2nd – GNCC Round 10 Race Report: New York

Published on September th, 2010

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After a very long but relaxing summer break from the GNCC’s, Can-am X-Team rider Zac Zakowski came back more ready than ever to pick up where he left off. Racing at the famous Unadilla National Motocross Track, Zakowski came home with a 2nd place finish after leading for a large portion of the race and fighting hard for the number one spot. Once the dust settled and the tether cords were pulled, Zac held onto a 15th overall position.

Zac Zakowski: Well, it’s been a little over two months since the last time I swung a leg over my quad for a GNCC course and needless to say, I couldn’t take it anymore! I couldn’t wait to lay the hammer down once again on my Janssen Motorsports/Ron Woods Racing engine. Coming fresh off our huge win at the 3rd annual Heartland Challenge with fellow racers Scott Kilby and Kevin Tranthem, I could not wait to use what I learned at the Heartland Challenge in New York this weekend.

I felt so strange upon arrival at Unadilla, as I could barely remember what I used to do on race weekends. After eating some yummy snicker bars, Tranthem, Kilby, and I headed out to walk the course. Yep, just what I thought, jumps, jumps, and more jumps. I knew this track was really going to test our Zakowski Motorsport differential braces on those landings.

I woke up to near perfect conditions, nice and cool, moist track, and nice sun. After some stretches and breakfast I was off to the starting line. This starting line looked as though it was going to be interesting as it was long and straight, over a hump, followed directly by an off-camber corner to the holeshot line. Oh and did I mention that we were on the front row?
The ten-second call came and I felt my breathing slow, pupils dilate, and heart pound out of my chest. The flag flew and I watched as everyone took off while I sat there with my bike refusing to start. Then it took off with all four GBC Afterburn Tires churning out the horsepower the Can-am dished out. Luckily I still managed to tuck into the woods in 3rd after getting pelted in the mouth with mud.

We flew through the fast-paced New York woods before hitting the open MX track. I knew I could make good time out on the track as I held it pinned around the sweeping curves, hitting the edge of burms, throwing roost, and clearing jumps so eloquently. I dropped down into the “Gravity Cavity” and back up I went. As soon as I crested the top I knew something really cool or really bad was about to happen as I was going way too fast. I flew through the air with my eyes practically closed and everyone’s jaw dropping around me. Then something strange happened, as I landed so softly it was like landing on pillows. “Wow, was that fun”, I said to myself while promising to NOT do that again.

I was right on Cecco’s tail until he over-shot a corner while just hitting the chain-link fence barrier. I cut down low overtaking 2nd. I then found myself running a very comfortable pace behind Buckhannon. I settled into the groove behind him waiting for an opening. The opening came on lap two when I noticed Buckhannon was beginning to slow. He pulled over slightly almost to let me by and I knew something happened. I was not about to take a chance though as I have been tricked by him before. I made the pass and took off. I looked back and he was nowhere so I knew something happened.

This was my chance! For the next 2 laps I just pinned it, flowing effortlessly through the woods over all the tree roots as they appeared. My Bopp Racing High Clearance A-Arms showed their stuff, as I was able to stay above the ruts. I put around 35seconds over 2nd place but then the lappers became relevant. This race seemed to have just endless amounts of traffic, by far the worst race for traffic to date. I caught up to two freight trains of quads, about 15 racers deep, and knew this was going to take awhile. I kept my pace steady but knew I was losing time between 2nd place and I. Before I knew it, Cecco was right back behind me; I knew this was going to be one heck of a race to the end.

A huge battle ensued between the two of us as we swapped for the lead a dozen times. I’d get caught behind a lapper and he would pass me, then he would get hung on a rut and I would pass him. I have not had that much fun in awhile in a good-ole-fashioned battle. We were just about to start our final lap and go by my pit. At this point I was directly behind Cecco ready to take the paint off his bumper when I came over the crest of the hill and saw my pit-crew holding up a board saying to fuel.
I knew that if I stayed on Cecco I would be able to regain the lead. It wasn’t a questioning my mind; I just knew I would be able to do it. I also knew that if I stopped to pit, it would greatly reduce the possibilities of taking the win. After arguing with myself for a split second, I pulled in and got a splash of fuel and was on my way. In those seconds in the pit I fell behind about 15 lappers. I put my head down and charged as hard as I could to get passed them.

In the end I crossed the line in 2nd after giving it my all to make it through traffic. The race felt great, it just seemed to come down to pit strategy. All in all, we learned a lot this race, both me as a racer and my pit crew/mechanics. I really felt like we came away with the most knowledge to date. Don’t expect us to have silly little issues in the final three rounds, as we are more ready than ever. There will be some heavy mods to the bike after this race. We are still holding onto 2nd in points so lets keep rolling. See you in Tennessee!!!

Thanks to the following supporters: Can-Am/BRP, Countryside Auto Transport, Janssen Motorsports, Bopp Race Components, All Terrain Research, Tire-Balls, Rath Racing, Straightline Performance, Frogz Skins, OMF Wheels, Ricochet Skids, Ron Woods Racing, Amsoil, Scott USA, Fasst Company, VP Fuels, and Cycra.

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