CHAMPIONSHIP HOPEFUL BEN KELLEY CLAIMS
SECOND OVERALL AT GNCC ROUND 11
MILLFIELD, Ohio – The battle for the 2021 GNCC National Championship continues to produce excitement into the final stretch of the series and FMF KTM Factory Racing’s Ben Kelley has proven to be in it for the long-haul after racing his way to a seventh-straight podium finish at Round 11. Having the win all but wrapped up on the final lap of Sunday’s Burr Oak GNCC, Kelley made a costly mistake to lose the lead but he dug deep to salvage second overall, where he now sits one point away from the top of the leaderboard with two rounds remaining.
Kelley got off to a great start aboard his KTM 350 XC-F as he battled in second on the opening lap. A mistake dropped him back to fourth at the end of the first hour and he quickly rallied his way back into podium contention by the third lap. Charging his way into the lead on lap four, Kelley maintained an eight-second lead going into the final lap but he got caught up going over a log and crashed into some trees, which allowed his championship rival, Steward Baylor Jr., to get by late in the race. Re-mounting quickly, Kelley was faced with finishing the race without a shifter and he battled as hard as he could to finish only 16 seconds back in second-place.
Ben Kelley: “It was another tough one but I felt like I was doing everything right, I just had a few mistakes and crashes out there that were all my own fault. It was hard to make passes, I had to force a few early on but I had a few lucky ones too. I pushed hard and did everything I had to do to get into the lead and halfway through the last lap I had a crash trying to go over a log and got tangled in some trees and it chewed off my shifter. It’s hard enough when everything is going right to get a win, so when things are stacked against you it’s tough but I gave it my all and got second. I’ll be back in two weeks to go for that win.”
Toth didn’t get off to the best start but he worked his way up to sixth on the opening lap. He battled around the top-five for the most of the race, swapping back-and-forth with a hard-charging group of riders. With two laps to go, Toth established himself at the front of the group as he moved into the fourth-place spot and he carried it into the final lap of racing. He fought hard on the last lap but it wasn’t enough to maintain his position and he lost two spots, finishing sixth on the day.
Josh Toth: “I didn’t get the best start but I picked my way through a couple guys. We had a big battle going all day and I got myself into fourth going into the last lap but unfortunately fighting those guys off, I just pushed myself too hard on that last lap. I had good riding for most of the day but I need to set myself up better in these last two rounds.”
Next Race: Newburg, West Virginia – October 10, 2021
XC1 Open Pro Results – Burr Oak GNCC
1. Steward Baylor Jr., YAM, 03:09:05.195
2. Ben Kelley, KTM, +16.582
3. Jordan Ashburn, HQV, +01:12.141
6. Josh Toth, KTM
Overall Championship Standings
1. Steward Baylor Jr., 263 points
2. Ben Kelley, 262
3. Jordan Ashburn, 200
5. Josh Toth, 161