GNCC Racing

FMF KTM Factory Racing's Ben Kelley Races to a Top-Five Finish at GNCC Series Opener

Monday, February 22, 2021 | 2:45 PM


Photo: Shan Moore
Photo: Shan Moore

UNION, S.C. – The FMF KTM Factory Racing Team battled through the opening round of the 2021 AMA Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) Series on Sunday making the best of a tough start to the season. Teammates Ben Kelley and Josh Toth came into Round 1 on the mend from previous injuries but that didn’t stop them from bringing the intensity for three grueling hours to finish fifth and eighth, respectively, in the XC1 Open Pro class.

Kelley, who took a big hit to the knee two weeks ago at the AMA National Enduro Series opener, came into the weekend with some ongoing knee issues but he set the pain aside as he lined up for the first XC1 Open Pro race of the season. He put himself into a favorable second-place start, mixing it up early on before establishing himself out front by the end of the first lap. He led the first three laps before getting stuck in a mud hole later on lap three, where he lost the lead and about 45 seconds of valuable time as the crew helped him get unstuck. Dropping to seventh, Kelley had his work cut out for him but he slowly chipped away to bring himself back into podium contention during the final hour of racing. While running third, Kelley was plagued by a series of issues late in the race, including multiple crashes and mishaps with lapped riders, and his podium chances slipped away as he salvaged a top-five finish at Round 1.

Ben Kelley: “I was able to battle up front and lead some laps early on but on the third lap, I kind of got balled up with some lappers and took a bad line that got me stuck for almost a minute. I put my head down and charged back as best I could but I had a few more incidents that kept me off the podium. I rode really good and the bike was really good, I just had too many mistakes to stay up front.”

Photo: Shan Moore
Photo: Shan Moore

Toth came into Sunday’s race with the goal of simply salvaging championship points as he continues to heal up from a fresh hand injury. With minimal time on the bike following his surgery two weeks ago, Toth did his best to manage the race for three hours, where he rode calm and collected to finish a respectable eighth in class and 13th overall. With two weeks off before the next round, Toth will take advantage of the extra time to heal and come back stronger for Round 2.

Josh Toth: “Coming into the race being injured, I just tried to ride smooth and be smart about picking my lines. I got kind of tight and pumped up after riding behind some other riders and I kind of lost the lead group after the first lap. I’m compensating on one hand with everything, so my right arm definitely got more pumped up but it loosened up and I just kind of rode my own race and tried to play it safe. My hand is super sore but it’s coming around. I think I just need some rest and I’ll be ready for Florida.”

Next Race: Palatka, Florida – March 7, 2021

XC1 Open Pro Results – Big Buck GNCC
1. Grant Baylor, GAS, 02:54:06.092
2. Thad DuVall, HQV, +19.003
3. Josh Strang, KAW, +40.063
5. Ben Kelley, KTM
8. Josh Toth, KTM

Overall Championship Standings
1. Grant Baylor, 30 points
2. Thad DuVall, 25
3. Josh Strang, 21
5. Ben Kelley, 16
13. Josh Toth, 8