GNCC Racing


Monday, March 8, 2021 | 3:30 PM


PALATKA, Fla. – FMF KTM Factory Racing’s Ben Kelley notched his first overall victory of the 2021 AMA Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) season on Sunday in a grueling three-hour battle through the rough sands of Florida. Teammate Josh Toth earned an impressive top-five overall as he continues to battle through an injured hand.

Known for its physically-demanding characteristics, the 14-mile Wild Boar GNCC course turned out to be even more rough than usual with rainfall coming down in the days leading up to the event. The wet sand made for a brutal platform as the pro classes took to the beat up course at the very end of the race weekend. 

Kelley got off to a top-three start in the XC1 Open Pro class but he got shuffled back early on. Fighting through the pack on lap one, Kelley encountered another early setback when he found himself on the ground within the first five miles. Starting again from the seventh-place position, Kelley patiently worked his way into podium contention after the first hour and by lap three he had made his way into the lead. With an hour and a half of racing left, Kelley upheld a strong pace all the way through the checkers to best the second-place rider by almost a minute and a half at the end of three hours. Kelley’s third career-victory gives him a boost in the early championship standings as he sets himself up to fight for his first XC1 Open Pro title this season.

PC: Shan Moore
PC: Shan Moore

Ben Kelley: “It feels really good to put in a solid ride and get a win after a frustrating first round. Three hours of sand whoops is insane and it’s been two years since I’ve done it so I just wanted to play it smart. I got into a rhythm and I feel like I just rode steady the whole race. My bike was awesome and I felt like I was in really good shape, just blitzing the whoops. I felt super strong, I’ve been down in Florida for two months training at Ranch Russell with Charlie Mullins and the boys and it feels good. I’m looking forward to battling this season.”

It was a great day of progression for Josh Toth, who continues to race his way back to normal after undergoing hand surgery last month prior to the opening round. Toth got off to a top-five start in the XC1 Open Pro class and he took some time to get into his groove early on, riding just outside the top-five throughthe first hour. He picked up some momentum as the race wore on and he finally broke into the top-five on lap four. He diced back-and-forth in the final two laps but he was able to assert himself on the final lap to solidify the fifth-place position. 

Josh Toth: “I got off to a pretty good start and rode with the top guys for a little while. I felt pretty good up there but the lack of riding from the injury kind of showed in the beginning and I got tight and pumped up so I had to back it down and loosen up, find my flow and pick my way back through the race. I got back up to the top five and was battling with the guys up there and ended up fifth, so I’m pretty stoked on that. It’s definitely something to build on. I’m feeling better every round so I’m happy.”

PC: Shan Moore
PC: Shan Moore

The FMF KTM Factory Racing Team will jump right back into racing next Saturday, March 14 with Round 3 at Aonia Pass MX.

Next Race: Washington, Georgia – March 14, 2021

XC1 Open Pro Results – Wild Boar GNCC
1. Ben Kelley, KTM, 02:59:57.231
2. Josh Strang, KAW, +01:24.335
3. Jordan Ashburn, HQV, +28.189 
5. Josh Toth, KTM

Overall Championship Standings
1. Grant Baylor, 48 points
2. Josh Strang, 46
3. Ben Kelley, 46
10. Josh Toth, 24