Russell Battles to The Wire For Second Overall at John Penton GNCC

TimeMonday, May 20, 2019 | 10:10 AM

RUSSELL BATTLES TO THE WIRE FOR SECOND OVERALL AT JOHN PENTON GNCC

Ken Hill

MILLFIELD, Ohio – FMF KTM Factory Racing Team’s Kailub Russell put forth a hard-fought performance on Sunday to claim the runner-up position at Sunday’s John Penton GNCC, Round 6 of the 2019 AMA Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) Series in Millfield, Ohio. Trail Jesters KTM Racing’s Ben Kelley had another dominant performance in the XC2 250 Pro class to extend his perfect win-streak to six-in-a-row through the first six rounds.

XC1 Open Pro

Russell powered his KTM 350 XC-F into the lead off the start, heading up the field as they entered the woods for the first time. However, things mixed up quickly as they trudged through the slick and muddy woods and Russell dropped back to fourth by the end of the opening lap. He climbed into second by lap two and from there he engaged in an exciting back-and-forth battle with Thad DuVall. The duo swapped the lead countless times throughout the three-hour race and it was Russell who held the advantage going into the final lap. DuVall, who was previously leading, stopped to gas up on the last lap, which allowed Russell to blitz by and assume the lead. Russell was able to put a small gap on DuVall early on the final lap but with only a couple miles until the finish, Russell got stuck behind a lapped rider and DuVall was able to slip by for the win. Russell was able to get going in time to salvage second place, where he continues to hold the championship lead with three wins under his belt this season. 

Russell: “It was a little bit of a follow the leader day for me. I was trying to ride behind Thad and I just kind of bided my time. I got in the lead there when Thad gassed up and I just tried to hang on to the finish. I was doing a good job, I hit all my marks, and a guy just stopped in the rut [in front of me]. I rode a flawless race other than that. I made a couple mistakes obviously, but I didn’t throw it away, I just kind of got robbed there at the end.” 

Meanwhile, Josh Toth got a great jump off the line as entered the woods in a top-three position. Toth shuffled back to sixth by the end of lap one, where he set himself up for a tough day of racing. He got stuck on the second lap and had to shut his bike off to get un-lodged and he lost substantial time, dropping back to ninth-place. From there, Toth put his head down and charged his way back up to sixth, finishing just outside the top-five in Ohio. 

Toth: “I made a dumb mistake on lap two and got stuck on my own and I had to shut my bike off and get it out. I caught up to a few other guys on the first bottlenecked hill and there were already a bunch of lappers and bikes everywhere so it took me two tries to get up and I was pretty exhausted after that. From there, I just kind of rode my own race and closed the gap but I had a rough last lap and got stuck a few times along the way.”

XC2 250 Pro

Kelley was dominant from start to finish, as he led all seven laps of the race. This was an especially big task considering the unpredictable course conditions and high volume of lapped traffic throughout the afternoon. Kelley consistently built his lead lap by lap, to ultimately best his XC2 competition by over six minutes and secure an impressive sixth overall on the day.

FMF XC3 125 Pro-Am

Jesse Ansley got off to a great start in the XC3 class, as he rounded the opening lap in the lead position. He maintained the lead through the second lap before engaging in battle for the position. After dicing back-and-forth for the next few laps, Ansley ultimately finished two seconds back in second-place. After six rounds, Ansley sits second in the championship standings with three victories and two podium finishes behind him. 

Next Race: Alpine, New York – June 2, 2019

XC1 Open Pro Results – The John Penton GNCC

  1. Thad DuVall, HQV
  2. Kailub Russell, KTM
  3. Trevor Bollinger, HQV
  4. Steward Baylor Jr., KTM

OTHER KTM

  1. Josh Toth, KTM
  2. Grant Baylor, KTM
  3. Daniel Milner, KTM 

XC2 250 Pro Results

  1. Ben Kelley, KTM
  2. Craig DeLong, HQV
  3. Evan Smith, HQV 

Overall Championship Standings

  1. Kailub Russell, 165 points (3 wins)
  2. Thad DuVall, 152 points (2 wins)
  3. Steward Baylor Jr., 123 points (1 win)

XC2 250 Pro Standings

  1. Ben Kelley, 180 points (6 wins)
  2. Michael Witkowski, 119 points
  3. Evan Smith, 107 points