Russell Takes the Snowshoe GNCC Overall Win in Toughest Conditions of the Season

TimeTuesday, June 26, 2018 | 10:55 AM

RUSSELL TAKES THE SNOWSHOE GNCC OVERALL WIN IN THE TOUGHEST CONDITIONS OF THE SEASON

Round 9 - GNCC Series - June 24, 2018

Ken Hill

SNOWSHOE, W. Va. – The 2018 AMA Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) Series wrapped up the first half of its season on Sunday with perhaps the most brutally-tough track of the year at the Snowshoe GNCC.

KTM riders made it a 1-2 sweep in both of the premier classes as FMF KTM Factory Racing’s Kailub Russell earned his seventh victory of the season and KTM-Supported rider Grant Baylor battled his way to a second overall in adverse conditions. In the XC2 class, KTM-Supported rider Ben Kelley and his FMF KTM Factory Racing teammate Josh Toth fought hard to claim the top two positions in the class, as well as a pair of impressive top-five overalls.

XC1 Open Pro

With a unique GP-style dead engine start, Russell lined up on the first row alongside the top-five contenders in the overall championship. With rain pouring down off the start, Russell put his KTM 350 XC-F into third as he patiently entered the slick and muddy woods on the opening lap. Russell hung back and mixed it up with the lead group early on before charging his way to the front on lap five. From there, he found himself in a battle with Thad DuVall and the duo broke away from the rest of the pack in a race of their own. As the two-lap card came out, Russell was able to open up the gap and he rode a steady pace in the final laps to bring home his third-career Snowshoe GNCC Overall win.

As the series heads into a 12-week break for the summer, Russell holds a 54-point lead in the XC1 Open Pro standings.

Russell: “Man, it was tough today. The first lap I just wanted to be really patient and just kind of feel things out on the track, especially with both sides of the mountain, so you know the holes and can check out the lines. I felt really good after doing that and then my goggles broke, which was a game changer. It was half the speed without goggles on out there because there was so much mud coming up in your face and there was water running down all the slopes, it was really tough. I was right there with Thad, he was keeping me honest and it was tough to get away because every time I would get goggles and try to get away, something would break on them. It was just a cat and mouse kind of thing. Finally, going into the last lap and a half I was able to open the gap up and then on the very last lap, I got the pitboard that Thad had crashed and was out of the race, so that’s a bummer. He was riding really good and I hope he’s okay and everything is well. I’m happy to get the win at Snowshoe and head into the summer break in a good position.”

XC2 250 Pro

It was another exciting battle between FMF KTM Factory Racing’s Josh Toth and Trail Jesters Racing KTM’s Ben Kelley, who have managed to split all nine race-wins between the two of them so far this season. With a unique start at Snowshoe, both riders found their way into a top position early on as they battled for the class lead. It was Toth who held the upper-hand early on but Kelley charged back and overtook the lead on lap four. Toth focused on keeping a steady pace in the final laps, where he ultimately finished second for the day behind his KTM-mounted teammate, Ben Kelley.

Toth: “This is definitely the toughest track of the year, it’s gnarly out there! Especially with the conditions this year because it’s so wet, we had to work really hard for this one. Thankfully, we had all the fans out there pulling us out and pointing us lines.”

Kelley maintains the XC2 Championship points lead heading into the summer break with four race-wins behind him.

Round 10: September 16 – Harpursville, New York

XC1 Open Pro Results

  1. Kailub Russell, KTM
  2. Grant Baylor, KTM
  3. Trevor Bollinger, HON

Overall Championship Standings

  1. Kailub Russell, 7 wins, 256 points
  2. Thad DuVall, 2 wins, 202
  3. Trevor Bollinger, 164
  4. Steward Baylor Jr., 149

XC2 250 Pro Results

  1. Ben Kelley, KTM
  2. Josh Toth, KTM
  3. Jonathan Girroir, SUZ

XC2 250 Pro Standings

  1. Ben Kelley, 4 wins, 238 points
  2. Josh Toth, 5 wins, 225
  3. Pascal Rauchenecker, 145