FMF KTM Factory Racing's Ben Kelley Battles to a Fourth-Place Finish at GNCC Round 4

TimeTuesday, March 30, 2021 | 9:50 AM


SOCIETY HILL, S.C. – The FMF KTM Factory Racing Team fought through challenging conditions on Sunday to come away with two solid finishes at Round 4 of the Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) Series. Finishing fourth in the XC1 Open Pro class, Ben Kelley maintains control of the early championship standings, with teammate Josh Toth finishing two positions back for sixth in class.

With hot and humid temperatures in South Carolina, Kelley put himself into a favorable position off the start of Sunday’s race but despite a good jump off the line, he soon found himself mid-pack after making a mistake through the opening corners. Playing catch-up from the start, the Round 2 winner charged hard into the first mud section but he got hung up in a deep rut that left him at the back of the pack heading into the rest of lap one. Charging all the way up to third by lap two, Kelley battled in podium contention for the next couple laps but he wasn’t able to hold that pace into the final hour of racing. Battling through all the elements, Kelley was able to ultimately secure fourth in the class and sixth overall for the day.

Photo: Shan Moore
Photo: Shan Moore

Ben Kelley: “It was a rough day. I kind of got caught in the ruts in the first couple corners and dropped back and then I got hung up for about 10 seconds in the mud hole around mile 1 and lost the pack. I was able to go from last to third on the first lap and then after that, I just wasn’t feeling it. I was so tired and it was all I could do to just make the laps. It’s a super frustrating day but I did the best I could with how I felt. We’ve got three weeks now so we’ll regroup and try to come back strong for the next round.”

Photo: Shan Moore
Photo: Shan Moore

Toth got off to a great start as he powered his way into third on the opening lap, sitting within striking distance of the lead battle early on. He made a mistake going over a downed log and crashed, smacking his elbow along the way. He re-mounted in seventh and worked his way back into the top-five halfway through the race but he struggled to push the envelope in the later laps. He settled into sixth with three laps to go and that’s where he ultimately finished for the day. 

Josh Toth: “I was riding pretty good at the beginning and I felt comfortable but I tucked the front and crashed over a downed log, smacking my elbow pretty good. After that, it seemed like every time I tried to get aggressive or push harder the track bit me and I went down, so I was kind of just riding it in. I’m glad to make it out mostly healthy.”

Next Race: Union, South Carolina – April 18, 2021

XC1 Open Pro Results – Camp Coker Bullet GNCC
1. Steward Baylor Jr., YAM, 02:48:20.579
2. Josh Strang, KAW, +03.288
3. Jordan Ashburn, HQV, +04:29.992
4. Ben Kelley, KTM, +01:16.467
6. Josh Toth, KTM

Overall Championship Standings
1. Ben Kelley, 86 points
2. Josh Strang, 83
3. Grant Baylor, 80
6. Josh Toth, 57