SOLID RUNNER-UP FINISH FOR FMF KTM FACTORY RACING’S BEN KELLEY AT BURR OAK GNCC
MILLFIELD, Ohio – FMF KTM Factory Racing Team’s Ben Kelley led a strong KTM charge at Sunday’s Burr Oak GNCC with an impressive second overall in the premier XC1 Open Pro class. Trail Jester’s Racing/KTM’s Jonathan Girroir followed suit in the XC2 250 Pro class by extending his win-streak to three-in-a-row with a standout performance, while KTM-Supported rider Zack Hayes capped off the day in the center of an all-orange podium sweep in the XC3 125 Pro-Am class.
Round 10 wasn’t as fruitful for FMF KTM Factory Racing’s lead rider Kailub Russell, who suffered a race-ending crash on Sunday while battling for the lead on lap two. After being sidelined for the remainder of the day due to a knee injury, the XC1 championship points leader will have his knee evaluated this week.
XC1 Open Pro
At the start of the afternoon race, it was Kelley who had a great jump off the line to capture the holeshot aboard his KTM 350 XC-F but he overshot the corner and lost a few positions before fighting his way through the dust to move into third on the opening lap. He overtook second on lap two and from there he worked on positioning himself to be in the lead battle with Steward Baylor Jr. With lap times longer than usual, the crew made a strategic decision to change up Kelley’s pit strategy in order to free him up for a late-in-the-race charge. The XC1 class rookie ran into some issues on the final lap and ended up going down, losing valuable time in his charge for the lead as he matched his best performance of the season with second overall. Despite missing the first five rounds of the series due to injury, Kelley now sits eighth in the overall championship standings with three podium finishes and a pair of solid fourths.
Ben Kelley: “I felt good today. I had a few little mistakes here and there but it was all typical GNCC style. I felt like I rode really good but Stu [Baylor] just beat me straight up. I’m happy to be back racing and healthy, I’ve been grinding ever since I was allowed to get back on a bike and things are starting to click finally.”
Russell had a great start to the day as he powered his KTM 350 XC-F to the front off the start. After dicing with the front-runners on the opening lap, the seven-time defending champion sat about 10 seconds behind the race leader on lap two as he plotted his path to the front. However, Russell soon found himself on the ground after making a costly mistake in the John Penton section that would ultimately end his day after less than two laps of racing.
Kailub Russell: “It’s pretty disappointing. I just got confused on my line choice in the John Penton section – we were on this little road bed and I thought I had already committed to the outside line but I was actually on the inside and when I drifted out there was a tree right in the center splitting the two lines and I just smashed my knee up against that tree and my bike. I knocked the wind out of myself and had a hard time bending my knee so Josh Strang stopped and helped me up on my feet because I was laying right in the middle of the track and couldn’t stand up, so thanks to him. I was feeling pretty good, too. I’m just frustrated.”
FMF KTM Factory Racing’s Josh Toth sat out of Sunday’s race after undergoing surgery last week to repair his ring finger. Toth is expected to return to racing as early as next week depending on his upcoming doctor’s appointment.
XC2 250 Pro
With a good start in the XC2 250 Pro division, Girroir got out front early on and immediately set out on a charge to climb his way through the XC1 field and insert himself into overall podium contention. Despite a small crash on the final lap, Girroir was able to maintain a comfortable lead to best his XC2 competition by 22 seconds, while just narrowly missing the overall podium in fourth. Girroir now enjoys a nine-point lead with three rounds remaining in the championship.
FMF XC3 125 Pro-Am
It was an all-out battle between a hungry group of KTM-mounted riders for the FMF XC3 125 Pro-Am victory but it was Zack Hayes who came away on top with his fifth win of the season. KTM rider Jason Lipscomb held solid in second and Michael Delosa, who led the first hour of the race, rounded out an all-KTM podium in third.
Next Race: Round 11 – Mason-Dixon GNCC – October 11, 2020
For more information on the GNCC schedule, please visit www.gnccracing.com.
XC1 Open Pro Results – Burr Oak GNCC
1. Steward Baylor Jr., YAM, 02:55:05.157
2. Ben Kelley, KTM, +58.373
3. Grant Baylor, SHR, +02:17.004
Overall Championship Standings
1. Kailub Russell, 256 points (7 wins)
2. Josh Strang, 201 (1 win)
3. Jordan Ashburn, 159
8. Ben Kelley, 107
XC2 250 Pro Results – Burr Oak GNCC
1. Jonathan Girroir, KTM
2. Mike Witkowski, YAM
3. Craig DeLong, HQV
XC2 250 Pro Championship Standings
1. Jonathan Girroir, 254 (5 wins)
2. Craig DeLong, 245 (3 wins)
3. Michael Witkowski, 234 points (2 wins)