Husqvarna-backed Coastal Racing teammates Craig DeLong and Layne Michael continue their bid for an XC2 250 Pro (16-24) Championship as both riders once again earned podium finishes with a hard-fought performance at Round 2 of the Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) Series in Florida. Additionally, XC3 125 Pro-Am rider Jack Edmondson made it two-in-a-row on Sunday to extend his early points lead in the class.
As the green flag dropped for the XC2 250 Pro (16-24) start, so did the rainfall making the opening lap a little more interesting. Both Michael and DeLong put their Husqvarna FX250 machines into a good position off the start as they came through the opening lap inside the top three.
After a quick pit stop to exchange goggles, DeLong eventually worked his way into the lead position. After one lap out front, DeLong got passed by Josh Toth where he dropped back to the 2nd place spot. DeLong kept himself within striking distance of the leader for the remainder of the three-hour race where he ultimately finished only eight seconds back for 2nd place.
"We had really good racing all day but I just couldn't make it happen to get into the lead at the end," DeLong said. "I felt like I had a good ride and I'm happy to be on the podium but I am disappointed that I missed the win. We're looking to rebound and fight for the center of the podium at Round 3."
Michael was able to put himself into the 2nd place position by the end of the opening lap as he worked on chasing down the leader in the first few laps. Michael was a lead contender through the first half of the three-hour race but the West Virginia native moved back to 3rd around the halfway point as his teammate DeLong moved into the 2nd place position. Michael maintained a consistent pace through the final hour to ultimately claim a spot on the podium with 3rd place in the class.
"We were able to escape the chaos off the start and get settled in the first couple of laps," Michael said. "Josh [Toth] caught me and I tried to ride behind him at the beginning but I didn't feel the best out there. The track was super gnarly but I'm glad to be on the podium for the first two rounds. We have a two-week break now so I can recover some more but I am definitely looking forward to getting back on the dirt!"
Jack Edmondson returned to his winning ways on Sunday as he claimed his second-straight XC3 125 Pro-Am victory after three hours of battle. The Great Britain native got off to a 2nd place start aboard his Husqvarna TC125 and he played it smart by following the leader throughout the first half of the race.
As the two-lap card came out, Edmondson decided to up the pace and make his move into the lead. From there he was able to stretch the gap to ultimately 1 minute and 30 seconds over the 2nd place rider, where he claimed his second-straight win in brutal conditions.
"I got a good start and jumped into 2nd behind Jason Thomas, he was running a good pace and I decided to follow him for a while because I knew this race was tough and I didn't want to break away too early," Edmondson said. "With two laps to go, I pulled the trigger and grabbed the lead and was able to hold onto it with a pretty nice gap over Paul Whibley in the end. It's been a really good start to the season and I hope to carry the momentum into Round 3."
It was a tough ending to the day for Coastal Racing/Husqvarna rider Ryan Sipes who put his Husqvarna FX350 into a top-three position for the first two hours of racing before a collision with a lapped rider caused him to go down.
"Honestly I thought he was going to let me by but at the last second he didn't and we came together," Sipes said. "It was a simple little crash but I came down on my foot peg and my inner thigh got a softball-sized knot on it. I'm waiting for the swelling to go down so they can see what's going on with it but it's feeling a lot better and I'm able to walk on it now. I think I'm going to be okay but at the time it was too painful to continue."
Sipes earned a podium finish at the season opener but a DNF at Round 2 will drop him back to 10th overall in the Championship Standings after two rounds.
Next Event: GNCC Round 3 - March 26, 2017
Results from the Wild Boar GNCC - Sunday, March 12
XC2 250 Pro (16-24) Results
- Josh Toth
- Craig DeLong (HQV)
- Layne Michael (HQV)
FMF XC3 125 Pro-Am Results
- Jack Edmondson (HQV)
- Paul Whibley
- Jason Thomas
XC2 250 Pro (16-24) Championship Standings
- Josh Toth (60)
- Craig DeLong (46)
- Layne Michael (46)
FMF XC3 125 Pro-Am Championship Standings
- Jack Edmondson (60)
- Paul Whibley (46)
- Jason Thomas (46)