KTM’S BEN KELLEY AND JOSEP GARCIA
DOMINATE THE GNCC PODIUM IN FLORIDA
PALATKA, Fla. – Following a winning performance at the series opener, FMF KTM Factory Racing’s Ben Kelley raced his way to a second-straight victory at Round 2 of the AMA Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) Series. Besting his KTM-mounted teammate, Spaniard Josep Garcia, by over four minutes outright, Kelley led the KTM brand to a dominant 1-2 sweep in what is deemed the toughest race of the circuit in Palatka, Florida.
With temperatures in the mid- to high-80s, Florida’s brutally-tough conditions were amplified with three physically demanding hours of battle in the premier class. Off the start, Kelley powered his KTM 350 XC-F into a top-three position early on and he charged into the lead battle within the first hour. Once he got out front, the defending XC1 Champion got into a comfortable groove and delivered a nearly flawless performance to gap the rest of the field by a whopping four-minute margin.
Ben Kelley: “It’s awesome! Florida is one of the hardest races of the year and coming into it, you just never know if you’re going to bonk out there, but I felt strong the whole race. I had a top-five start, which I was happy with, and the dust was gnarly so I was able to work my way up into second. I freight-trained with Jordan a little bit and Josep was close behind, and I just tried to stay smooth and off the ground. I tried to enjoy it because this track is just gnarly and it worked out in the end, I’m pumped to get the win.”
In only his second appearance in the GNCC Series, Josep Garcia delivered a world-class performance at the grueling Wild Boar event. Garcia charged off the line to capture a second-place start aboard his KTM 350 EXC-F and he settled into third on the opening lap. Riding poised and confident, the 2021 ISDE Overall winner was able to manage third for the first two and a half hours, setting himself up for a head-to-head battle for second coming into the final lap of racing. The second-place rider made a mistake on the final lap and Garcia capitalized, overtaking the position just before the final stretch to earn a career-best second overall in his second GNCC race.
Josep Garcia: “It’s amazing to come here to U.S., the fans are so good here and I’m really happy to be second, it tastes like a win for me. The second GNCC of my life and to be on the podium is amazing – it’s a dream come true. Congrats to Ben, we had a great battle with Jordan in the last laps and I’m really happy. Thanks to Kailub Russell, KTM and all my sponsors that support me, I’m so happy.”
Teammate Josh Toth got off to a seventh-place start aboard his KTM 350 XC-F and he immediately charged into fourth on the second lap. Battling just outside podium contention, Toth maintained fourth through the first half of the race but he suffered an unfortunate crash midway through that ultimately ended his day early.
Next Race: Washington, Georgia – March 13, 2022
XC1 Open Pro Results – Wild Boar GNCC
1. Ben Kelley, KTM, 02:55:20.690
2. Josep Garcia, KTM, +04:04.770
3. Jordan Ashburn, HQV, +31.179
7. Josh Toth, KTM
Overall Championship Standings
1. Ben Kelley, 60 points
2. Jordan Ashburn, 42
3. Josep Garcia, 37
11. Josh Toth, 18