MT. MORRIS, Pa. – FMF KTM Factory Racing’s Kailub Russell returned to the top step of the podium on Sunday with his fifth win of the season at Round 6 of the 2020 AMA Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) Series in Mt. Morris, Pennsylvania. His teammate, Ben Kelley, returned from injury with an impressive performance to secure third overall on the day.
In the XC2 250 Pro class, Tely Energy Racing/KTM’s Liam Draper captured his first podium finish of the season with a hard-fought performance at the High Point GNCC.
XC1 Open Pro
Coming into the race weekend a bit under the weather, Russell mustered up the energy to power his KTM 350 XC-F into the early lead as he set the pace on a clear track ahead. The seven-time champion immediately put his head down and charged on the opening lap to begin breaking away from the competition, where he held a 24-second gap over second-place by the fourth lap. However, as the race wore on Russell began experiencing an onslaught of lapped riders that made it challenging to get by in some spots. He went down late in the race and his comfortable lead tightened up but he was able to hold strong and ultimately secure the win by 11 seconds.
Kailub Russell: “I got a pretty good start and felt good straight away. I’ve been struggling a little bit so I did a little warm-up routine before the race and I felt better the first half of that lap. I was able to stretch it out and then we got into lappers and I kind of tanked myself, it’s just frustrating. I’m glad to win but I’m not really happy with the ride today.” After being off the bike for three and a half months, Kelley eased his way in with a top-five position off the start. He slowly worked his way through the field to secure a podium position by the halfway point. With a hard-charging Grant Baylor behind him, Kelley maintained his poise to earn a respectable third-place finish in his first race back.
Ben Kelley: “It’s been a long time since I’ve raced for three-hours – I got back on the bike three weeks ago and man, it was hard out there! Grant was making me work for it but I put in a good final lap and I’m stoked to be on the podium. Overall, I felt really strong and I was able to get up to speed and conserve in certain spots. I’m happy with how I rode and happy with how my shoulder held up.”
Coming off a big victory at the last round of AMA National Enduro Championship, Josh Toth came into the weekend with great momentum behind him. Toth got off to a great start in third and he battled in fourth through the dusty conditions on the opening lap before dropping back a few spots on lap two. He battled just inside the top-10 for the first two hours before setting himself up for a charge late in the race. He worked his way into sixth with two laps to go and on the final lap he moved up to fifth, where he ultimately secured a top-five finish in only his third race back from injury.
Josh Toth: “I had a good jump off the start and I was third off the holeshot. I was up front with those guys on the first lap but I had a hard time following them in the dust. I tried to push through, I was a little sore from the last race, but I did the best I could to get through it and survive.”
XC2 250 Pro
It was an all-out battle for the XC2 250 Pro class podium and Draper was in the mix all day long as he placed his Tely Energy Racing KTM into a top-five spot off the start. By lap two, Draper had taken over the lead and he diced back-and-forth several times throughout the three-hour race. He dropped back to third on the final lap, where he finished strong to secure a podium position at Round 6.
Next Race: TBA – June 28, 2020
For more information on the GNCC schedule, please visit www.gnccracing.com.
XC1 Open Pro Results – High Point GNCC
1. Kailub Russell, KTM, 03:04:48.539
2. Josh Strang, KAW, +11.530
3. Ben Kelley, KTM, +02:44.111
5. Josh Toth, KTM
Overall Championship Standings
1. Kailub Russell, 175 points (5 wins)
2. Josh Strang, 147 (1 win)
3. Jordan Ashburn, 96
XC2 250 Pro Results – High Point GNCC
1. Michael Witkowski, YAM
2. Craig DeLong, HQV
3. Liam Draper, KTM
XC2 250 Pro Championship Standings
1. Michael Witkowski, 152 points (2 wins)
2. Craig DeLong, 148 (2 wins)
3. Jonathan Girroir, 143 (2 wins)