FMF KTM FACTORY RACING’S BEN KELLEY MAINTAINS CONTROL OF THE SERIES POINTS WITH A SECOND-PLACE FINISH AT ROUND 6
CRAWFORDSVILLE, Ind. – The 2021 AMA Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) Series has approached the halfway point of its 13-round series and FMF KTM Factory Racing’s Ben Kelley maintains control of the XC1 Open Pro Championship standings after securing a hard-fought podium finish at the Round 6 Hoosier GNCC.
Taking place on the hallowed grounds of Indiana’s Ironman Raceway, this weekend’s race was a slightly different version of the popular Ironman GNCC, with weather and track conditions reaching near perfect levels. The 11-mile course proved to be fast and challenging, ultimately delivering a full three-hour battle in the afternoon’s pro race.
Kelley got a decent jump off the start of the XC1 Open Pro class but he got pinched off in the first turn, setting him back to sixth heading into the woods on the opening lap. Passing opportunities were hard to come by early on so Kelley had his work cut out for him as he tried to make his way through the pack. Coming into the pits for his first drink stop on lap two, Kelley made a mistake that dropped him back to seventh as the leaders continued to break further away from the pack. Engaged in a freight-train of riders inside the top-five, Kelley separated himself with an alternative pit strategy and it paid off as he was able to charge his way up to third by lap five. Over the next two laps, Kelley reeled in the second-place rider and he eventually made his move with two laps to go, then setting his sights on the race leader. He made a valiant charge in the final hour to cut the leader’s deficit down to only 14 seconds but he wasn’t able to make it stick as he ultimately finished 35 seconds back for second overall.
Ben Kelley: “It was a solid race but I’ve got to be better my first two laps and get on Stew’s wheel early on. I know if I’m there, I can make it happen in the end, I’ve done it before. Hats off to him and everyone else, they rode well. The track was gnarly and rough but I had fun and gave it my all, second-place was what it was today.”
Josh Toth got off to an eighth-place start in the XC1 Open Pro class but he struggled with arm pump early on, which made it difficult for him to move forward right away. After the first gas stop, Toth was able to settle into his groove but by then he had already lost the pack of riders ahead so he was left to race his own pace for the remaining laps, ultimately finishing ninth.
Josh Toth: “It wasn’t a great day for me, unfortunately I just rode tight and struggled on the hard pack sections of the track. I have a few things to work on and improve so I can get some better results at the next round. Thank you to the entire KTM team for the support!”
Next Race: Millfield, Ohio – May 23, 2021
XC1 Open Pro Results – Hoosier GNCC
1. Steward Baylor Jr., YAM, 03:02:13.050
2. Ben Kelley, KTM, +35.129
3. Layne Michael, YAM, +38.271
9. Josh Toth, KTM
Overall Championship Standings
1. Ben Kelley, 132 points
2. Steward Baylor Jr., 127
3. Grant Baylor, 113
8. Josh Toth, 78