WASHINGTON, Ga. – The 2019 AMA Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) Series picked up on Sunday just one week after its brutal season opener in Florida and FMF KTM Factory Racing’s Kailub Russell came out swinging to claim the XC1 Open Pro and Overall victory at Round 2.
Defending XC2 250 Pro Champion and KTM-Supported rider, Ben Kelley, made it two-in-a-row on Sunday with another convincing win in the class.
XC1 Open Pro
As the green flag waived for the XC1 Open Pro class, Russell put himself into a good position right away and he powered his KTM 350 XC-F into the lead on the opening lap. Russell swapped the lead with Trevor Bollinger on lap two but he quickly overtook the position once again on lap three and the duo continued to battle wheel-to-wheel through the first half of the race. A third rider entered the mix on lap four and Russell dropped back to third briefly before charging his way back into the lead as the two-lap card fell. With a solid performance on the final lap, Russell was able to take the checkers 13 seconds ahead of the second-place rider, which was his largest gap of the entire race.
Russell: “The nature of this track is great and it allows for some great battles – the three of us were swapping back-and-forth. It was really fun, we were all dialed with the fast line and knew it really well. We were catching the lappers in good spots where we could make moves and it wasn’t too hard to get around them. It’s nice to get the points lead back but we’ve got a long way to go and we need to be consistent all season long.”
FMF KTM Factory Racing’s Josh Toth got a top-10 start, rounding the opening lap in eighth place in XC1. Toth made his way up to fifth by lap three, where he fought for a top-five position in the final hour-and-a-half. Toth swapped the fifth-place position several times in the final laps and he was on his way to securing a top-five heading into the final moments of the race. However, just a few miles from the finish he lost a position to another rider, where he ultimately finished one-second back for sixth place.
Toth: “Today was definitely a step in the right direction for me and I had a lot of fun on this track. It’s a bummer that I lost the top-five position so close to the finish but I’m going to keep working hard and hopefully get into the top-five at the next round.”
XC2 250 Pro
Trail Jesters KTM Racing’s Ben Kelley didn’t get the greatest jump off the start but he was able to put his KTM 250 XC-F into the lead on the opening lap. Once Kelley got out front, he never looked back as he cruised his way to a dominant finish in the XC2 250 Pro class – finishing over two minutes ahead of the second-place rider. His teammate, Jonathan Girroir, rounded out the XC2 podium in third.