PERU, Ind. – FMF KTM Factory Racing Team’s Kailub Russell extended his points lead in the 2019 AMA Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) Series after claiming his second-straight victory at Round 5 on Sunday. His teammate and XC1 Open Pro rookie, Josh Toth, joined him atop the overall podium with his first-career top-three finish in the overall.
Trail Jesters KTM Racing teammates Ben Kelley and Jesse Ansley once again swept the XC2 250 Pro and FMF XC3 125 Pro-Am divisions, respectively, to give KTM a clean sweep in the three premier classes.
XC1 Open Pro
Rainfall leading up to the weekend’s X-Factor Whitetails GNCC made for muddy conditions on Sunday’s race day. With limited passing opportunities slick mud through the first turns, Russell quickly powered his KTM 350 XC-F from a mid-pack jump off the start to the lead position heading into the woods. Russell sprinted on the opening lap to secure a sizeable gap over second-place and from there he was able to maintain just under a minute-lead for a majority of the race. With two laps to go, Russell made a mistake and went down in the FMF Powerpoint section, dousing himself in water and mud for the final laps. With a one-minute gap heading into the final lap, Russell maintained a steady pace to bring home his third win of the season from Round 5.
Russell: “I knew the start was going to be crucial because you couldn’t really pass in the fields because it was train-tracked from the quads yesterday, so I knew I wanted to be leading by the time we got into the woods. I felt really good with the track today. I knew it was going to be really rough and I’ve been riding a lot of moto lately so when it turned out to be that style of track I was able to sprint early and ride my own race from there.”
Meanwhile, Toth also put himself into a favorable position off the start as he rounded the opening lap in third-place. He charged hard on the opening lap to keep second-place in his sights but he soon fell into a race of his own as he maintained third throughout the duration of the race. In his first season in the premier class, Toth scored his first-career podium finish only five rounds in.
Toth: “I’m so stoked, I really needed that. I came in refreshed this week and knew I had to ride my own race and focus on that. The conditions were really gnarly today. Luckily, I got off to a great start and was in third place from the first corner to pretty much the whole day. We all got kind of separated and into our own grooves and I didn’t really see anyone all day.”
XC2 250 Pro
It was another flawless day for Ben Kelley, who captured his fifth-consecutive victory in the XC2 250 Pro class. Kelley had a great jump off the start as he came into the first turn ahead of the pack but a couple riders tucked inside and one of them went down in front of Kelley, causing him to veer off the track to avoid going down. As a result, he got shuffled back to mid-pack but he quickly worked his way into the lead on lap one. From there, he focused on picking off XC1 riders as he climbed his way into the top-five overall. With an impressive ride, Kelley was able to best his competition by almost seven minutes on his way to earning a top-five overall finish with fifth.
FMF XC3 125 Pro-Am
Jesse Ansley topped the day off for KTM with his third victory of the season in the XC3 class. Ansley got shot off the line to capture the holeshot and early lead in the class. He worked his way to a 30-second lead but a crash on the second lap cut his gap down just a little. He pulled away once again and rode his own race to secure an over six-minute win in the XC3 class and 16th overall for the day.
Next Race: Millfield, Ohio – May 19, 2019
Overall Results – X-Factor Whitetails GNCC
- Kailub Russell, KTM (XC1)
- Thad DuVall, HQV (XC1)
- Josh Toth, KTM (XC1)
- Steward Baylor Jr., KTM (XC1)
- Ben Kelley, KTM (XC2)
XC2 250 Pro Results
- Ben Kelley, KTM
- Craig DeLong, HQV
- Austin Lee, HON
Overall Championship Standings
- Kailub Russell, 140 points
- Thad DuVall, 122
- Steward Baylor Jr., 105
XC2 250 Pro Standings
- Ben Kelley, 150 points
- Michael Witkowski, 103
- Evan Smith, 86