Ben Kelley Keeps Championship Hopes Alive with Dominating Victory at Penultimate Round of GNCC Racing

TimeMonday, October 11, 2021 | 11:40 AM

BEN KELLEY KEEPS CHAMPIONSHIP HOPES ALIVE WITH DOMINATING VICTORY AT PENULITMATE ROUND OF GNCC RACING

NEWBURG, W. Va. – FMF KTM Factory Racing’s Ben Kelley put forth a dominant performance at Sunday’s Buckwheat 100 GNCC, besting his championship rival by more than two minutes to reclaim the championship points lead with one round remaining in the AMA Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) Series in West Virginia.

Photo: Shan Moore
Photo: Shan Moore

Kelley came into the penultimate round just one point down in the overall standings and he did what he needed to do to bring the title fight down to the season finale later this month. Kelley got off to a fifth-place start on the opening lap and he powered his KTM 350 XC-F into second-place by the second lap. Kelley made his move to the front on lap three and he never relinquished the lead, steadily gapping the second-place rider to lock in a two-minute victory at the end of three hours.

Ben Kelley: “I’m focused more than ever on this championship and today I just rode really good. Some days you’re just on it and I felt like that today – really smooth, really fast and the bike felt amazing. It was nice just to put a race together, stay off the ground and be able to charge hard. Stu and I are both fighting tooth and nail for this but everyone’s got respect and can be friends. I’m looking forward to the finale at Ironman, hopefully I can put on a good show!”

Photo: Shan Moore
Photo: Shan Moore

Teammate Josh Toth managed a top-10 finish after fighting through a couple of crashes throughout the day. With a solid start inside the top-five, Toth experienced a big get-off early on that dropped him way out of contention with the lead pack. He settled into eighth for most of the race, climbing his way into seventh on lap four. He held his own in seventh for about a lap before suffering another costly incident that ultimately dropped him back to a 10th-place finish in the class. 

Josh Toth: “I was battling for a top-five spot and at the end of lap one, I hit a soft spot and went over the bars really hard. It knocked the wind out of me but I was able to get up and try to recover from that – kind of the back of the pack. A few hours later, I hit a bad spot and spun out – my tire hit a tree, bumped into another and threw me down. It was a rough day, but I’m hoping to recover for the next one.”

Photo: Shan Moore
Photo: Shan Moore

Next Race: Crawfordsville, Indiana – October 24, 2021

XC1 Open Pro Results – Buckwheat 100 GNCC
1. Ben Kelley, KTM, 02:55:12.719
2. Steward Baylor Jr., YAM, +02:06.949
3. Thad DuVall, HQV, +51.256
OTHER KTM
10. Josh Toth, KTM

Overall Championship Standings
1. Ben Kelley, 292 points
2. Steward Baylor Jr., 288
3. Jordan Ashburn, 216
OTHER KTM
5. Josh Toth, 164