FMF KTM FACTORY RACING'S KELLEY IMPRESSES WITH RUNNER-UP RESULT IN 2023 GNCC OPENER
Monday, February 20, 2023 | 2:25 PM
FMF KTM FACTORY RACING'S KELLEY IMPRESSES WITH
RUNNER-UP RESULT IN 2023 GNCC OPENER
Round 1 – Grand National Cross Country Series
Kelley made his anticipated return to GNCC action after an injury sidelined him for much of the past season and it was a spectacular return for the 2021 champion. The 26-year-old was in podium contention from the outset at round one and managed to fight his way to a P2 result aboard the KTM 350 XC-F, making it a KTM 1-2 behind Baylor after applying pressure in the late stages.
Ben Kelley: "I was riding really good and I'm pumped – not sure how I pulled this one off! I wasn't sure if I'd be out here, but wanted to give it a go and, luckily, I've done a lot of these races and know what I'm getting myself into. I didn't have the best start, but picked my way through the pack and had an awesome battle with Ricky [Russell]. Stew played a good race, by the time I caught him I had nothing left in the tank and he pulled away, but I'm speechless, for sure."
Upon stepping up to the XC1 Pro class for 2023, new FMF KTM Factory Racing signing Girroir started up-front on his 350 XC-F and featured inside the top five through the early laps. He's currently recovering from recent surgery and managed to bring home 10th position.
Johnny Girroir: "I got an awesome start, the 350 XC-F just took off – it's an awesome bike! I was feeling good even though I haven't ridden for four weeks and had surgery 18 days ago... I know what I'm capable of and that my speed's there, so it will be a long season and I'm looking forward to going again."
As for Baylor, he was exceptional at the opening round to claim victory riding the KTM 450 SX-F and becoming the early points leader. He led the field from lap one and managed to control the race from there, eventually crossing the finish line with a 34.801-second advantage over Kelley.
Steward Baylor: "I'm really pumped on the way I started even though I didn't have the greatest starting position. I was right up in the front, made a couple of moves and by the end of lap one, I found myself in the lead. I'm one of those riders that once I get clear track, I can ride my own race and that's what I did! I felt the pressure there for a little while as the guys started reeling me in, but I was able to find another gear with two to go – the track was really gnarly, but I was able to find a couple of seconds to win the event."
Round one of the 2023 GNCC series also saw Korie Steed ride her KTM to victory in the WXC category, with fellow KTM-supported rider Shelby Turner claiming fourth position at Big Buck this weekend.
Next Race: Wild Boar GNCC – Palatka, Florida – March 5, 2023
XC1 Open Pro Results – Big Buck GNCC
1. Steward Baylor Jr, KTM, 2:47:19.199
2. Ben Kelley, KTM, +34.801
3. Ricky Russell, YAM, +39.801
10. Johnny Girroir, KTM
Overall Championship Standings
1. Steward Baylor Jr, 30 points
2. Ben Kelley, 25
3. Ricky Russell, 21
10. Johnny Girroir, 1