Russell Back On Top at The Tomahawk GNCC Mudder

TimeTuesday, June 4, 2019 | 11:20 AM
Ken Hill

ALPINE, N.Y. – FMF KTM Factory Racing Team’s Kailub Russell earned his 58th career victory on Sunday with a well-calculated performance at Round 7 of the 2019 AMA Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) Series in Alpine, New York. Trail Jesters KTM Racing’s Ben Kelley had a stellar ride in his home region as he battled for the overall lead early on to claim his first overall-podium of the season with third, thus extending his perfect win-steak in the XC2 250 Pro class this season. 

Track conditions were already on the wet-side heading into the afternoon but rainfall during the pro race presented an additional element of mud for racers to negotiate during the three-hour battle. For Russell, the day started off well as he captured the XC1 Open Pro holeshot and early lead in the class aboard the KTM 350 XC-F. He swapped the lead with Thad DuVall on the opening lap, checking in two seconds behind after one lap complete. He charged his way back to the front on lap two and once again the duo diced back-and-forth for the next three laps, leaving Russell at the front heading into the final hour of racing. With a 30-second gap heading into the final lap, Russell did his best to maintain a gap over DuVall but he went into survival mode late in the race to bring home his fourth win of the season with a 16-second gap over second-place.

Russell: “It was really fun there for a while. My bike was working perfectly out there and I really enjoyed it. And then the rain came down and I was loving it! It was the best thing it could have done – it made the track better, really. Those last few laps it started tacking up again and I was kind of just paddling around after that. It was tough trying to get around lappers and the mud got so thick it would pull you around so it was hard to keep that momentum driving forward but we had a good time.” 

Meanwhile, Josh Toth started off in the seventh-place position on lap one, where he worked his way into fifth by lap two. From there, he battled between seventh and eighth-place, swapping the positions back-and-forth. Sitting eighth going into the final lap, Toth made a last-minute charge to ultimately pass his way into seventh on the last lap, finishing seventh in the XC1 Class and tenth overall.

Toth: “Today was a challenging day but I had a lot of fun riding my bike. I made my way up to fifth on the second lap but I just wasn’t able to piece it all together for the rest of the race. I’m happy to come away with some points and set my sights on Snowshoe.”

Tely Energy Racing/KTM's Steward Baylor Jr. had an impressive come-from-behind performance, charging his way from 12th place on the opening lap all the way up to third-place in the XC1 class to earn his third podium finish of the season.

XC2 250 Pro

It was another flawless day for Kelley, who led all seven laps of the race to finish almost ten minutes ahead of the second-place rider in the XC2 class. He started his charge right away on the opening lap as he grabbed onto the overall lead on the adjusted time clock. He continued to put in solid laps throughout the three-hour race to secure an impressive third overall on the day and yet another victory in the XC2 class. 

FMF XC3 125 Pro-Am

Trail Jesters KTM Racing’s Jesse Ansley battled his way to a second-place finish in the XC3 class with a hard-fought performance on Sunday. Ansley swapped the lead position several times throughout the race, ultimately finishing second on the day. He now sits eight points back for the overall lead in the XC3 Championship Standings. 

Next Race: Snowshoe, West Virginia – June 23, 2019

XC1 Open Pro Results – The Tomahawk GNCC

  1. Kailub Russell, KTM
  2. Thad DuVall, HQV
  3. Ben Kelley, KTM
  4. Steward Baylor Jr., KTM
    OTHER KTM
    10. Josh Toth, KTM 

XC2 250 Pro Results

  1. Ben Kelley, KTM
  2. Craig DeLong, HQV
  3. Mike Witkowski, BET 

Overall Championship Standings

  1. Kailub Russell, 195 points (4 wins)
  2. Thad DuVall, 177 points (2 wins)
  3. Steward Baylor Jr., 141 points (1 win) 

XC2 250 Pro Standings

  1. Ben Kelley, 210 points (7 wins)
  2. Michael Witkowski, 140 points
  3. Evan Smith, 118 points