BEN KELLEY RETURNS TO THE CENTER OF THE PODUIM
WITH A BIG WIN AT THE SNOWSHOE GNCC
SNOWSHOE, W. Va. – FMF KTM Factory Racing’s Ben Kelley clinched his second victory of the 2021 AMA Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) Series on Sunday with a stellar performance on arguably the toughest stop of the whole GNCC circuit. Taking place at West Virginia’s Snowshoe Mountain Resort, the Snowshoe GNCC served as Round 9 of the 13-race series where Kelley now holds a nine-point lead in the XC1 Open Pro Championship heading into the summer break.
With a unique live engine start on the pavement, Kelley raced his KTM 350 XC-F to a third-place start on the opening lap and he settled into the rough and tumble terrain early on. Sitting about 30 seconds behind the leaders after the first hour, Kelley made a big charge in hour two, eventually making his move into the lead on lap four. With a hard-charging duo close behind, Kelley worked hard to create a gap late in the race and despite a brief pass on the final lap, he was able to reclaim the lead and hold strong to claim a 30-second victory after three brutal hours of racing.
Ben Kelley: “I rode solid all race but those guys were ripping in the beginning and they kind of checked out on me in the first and second lap. I picked it up and found a good flow charging down the ski slopes and I was able to take a big chunk out there. I’m stoked to get the win, I needed it, it’s been a long time coming.”
Toth, who started on the second row due to his rank in the championship standings, shot off the line to assume the lead in his row with fourth overall on the adjusted time clock. It wasn’t long before he caught the tail-end of row one and he fought hard to maintain a spot in the podium battle. Unfortunately, Toth had a big crash in the rock section and lost physical sight of the leaders early on and from there he had his work cut out for him in the chase for a podium spot. He kept his momentum rolling for the remainder of the race, ultimately finishing just off the box in fourth.
Josh Toth: “I got a good start and caught up to the back of row one in the first couple of miles down to Howard’s Hole and I was trying to get around one of the guys on the front row in a big rocky section and had a big get-off. Fortunately, I was totally fine and I just bent the bars a bit but I totally lost sight of the top three. I felt like I rode strong all day, I did have a lot of incidents with lappers but overall, I rode well and just got beat by the top three – they’re riding really well. I’ll just keep working and I’ll come back strong after summer break.”
Next Race: Beckley, West Virginia – September 12, 2021
XC1 Open Pro Results – Snowshoe GNCC
1. Ben Kelley, KTM, 02:58:32.379
2. Steward Baylor Jr., YAM, +30.831
3. Jordan Ashburn, HQV, +03:00.868
4. Josh Toth, KTM, +02:45.500
Overall Championship Standings
1. Ben Kelley, 212 points
2. Steward Baylor Jr., 203
3. Jordan Ashburn, 158
6. Josh Toth, 128