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Yamaha’s Ballance, Cecco and Ockerman Dominate at Ironman
CYPRESS, Calif. – October 27, 2008 – Team Yamaha Factory Racers dominated the Grand National Cross Country Championship (GNCC) ATV field in Crawfordsville, Ind., this past weekend with Bill Ballance celebrating his record ninth consecutive ATV XC1 Pro championship, Donnie Ockerman enjoying his 2008 GNCC XC2 Pro Am championship, and Traci Cecco capturing her unprecedented seventh Women’s ATV championship.
Both Ballance and Ockerman had their titles wrapped up coming into the weekend, so the big news was the heated women’s race. Cecco entered the weekend’s event with a single series point lead and a win would secure her title. That’s just what she produced after pushing her YFZ450 through tough, cold, muddy trails.
This was a special win for Cecco, not only for her seventh title but also for the year’s heated competition. She fought back emotion on the podium while describing her win and season as: “… the hardest championship ever.” As the end of the season approached, Traci had predicted she would need to win the final four GNCC stops to capture the series title again this year, and that’s exactly what happened – an impressive accomplishment in itself.
Ballance continues to be considered by many as the best ATV racer of all time, now with nine consecutive professional championships. He had secured the ATV XC1 Pro championship two weeks before the Ironman but still raced hard swapping the lead several times before finishing third on the day just behind teammate Donnie Ockerman.
Ockerman, who had wrapped up the 2008 GNCC XC2 Pro Am championship two stops earlier, raced the professional class again this weekend and showed he’s ready for prime time. He battled with the leaders all race and finished in an amazing second place.
Brandon Sommers, last year’s XC2 Pro Am champion, finished sixth in the Ironman and fifth overall in this year’s XC1 Pro class.
Yamaha representatives were on hand to support their race team and the GNCC series, which attracted approximately 10,000 spectators to the Ironman Finale. Yamaha celebrated its weekend of championships with fans at the Yamaha hospitality area handing out free popcorn, hot chocolate and commemorative Bill Ballance nine-time championship T-shirts. Yamaha employees also joined Ballance and Cecco on the podium congratulating them with special trophies for their unprecedented accomplishments.