Welcome to Quick Fill.
Another week of 2024 is in the books and we’re that much closer to the beginning of the new GNCC Racing season. The preparations are never ending as not only is the GNCC Racing Nation getting their machines ready to roll, but we’re deep in our own preparations as well. So, everyone is busting at the seams getting things ready to roll to Big Buck, which is now just around a month away, so things are really going to be moving quickly at this point.
Last week we went through and gave a breakdown of some of the top levels of the pro ranks rolling into 2024 but there have been a few other developments since then. One of which is the brutal news that Ben Kelley will be sidelined for the bulk of the 2024 season. You hate to see this as Ben is such a good guy and won a couple of races in 2023. However, he’s now ended up with a torn labrum in his hip that will require surgery and rule him out for about six months. The labrum sort of acts like a gasket for your hip socket, giving a little cushion in the hip joint and helping to keep the top of your thighbone in the hip socket. So, you can sort of use your imagination to think about how it feels when that’s torn and not working properly.
With Kelley sidelined, KTM will be bringing their National Grand Prix Championship star, Dante Oliveira to contest select GNCC events in Ben’s place. Dante has made a couple of GNCC starts back in 2020 and landed inside the top ten in his first two tries at GNCC, so it will be cool to see the west coaster come give GNCC a shot again. You can check out KTM’s PR HERE for more details on Ben and the fill-in rides.
AmPro Yamaha also made their official team announcement for 2024 and as expected both Ricky Russell and Liam Draper will be back with AmPro once again. Russell will be back in the XC1 class, while Draper will make his attempt at a second XC2 title. Both of these guys had pretty stellar 2023 seasons with Russell on the podium six times, including a win at Tiger Run, and Draper snagging nine XC2 podiums with three of those being wins and the XC2 title.
The new addition to the AmPro Yamaha squad comes in the form of motocrosser-turned-GNCCer, Jordan Jarvis who will be racing the WXC class in 2024. Jordan doesn’t have a ton of off-road experience, so she’ll have a little bit of a learning curve in the early parts of the season, but Jordan has actually made several Pro Motocross motos (against the guys!) over the last few years, so she’s pretty darn fast. Mikey caught up with Jordan for this week’s edition of Tuesday Toolbox, which you can read HERE.
Jordan takes over AmPro’s WXC slot after Rachael Archer will be moving over to a Kawasaki ride as part of the Rocky Mountain Red Bear Racing Kawasaki alongside Steward Baylor. Now, that team still hasn’t listed its full roster but like we said last week, Thad Duvall is still hinting as his involvement and is now doing some riding at The Shoals MX with Baylor. Also, if you look really closely at the front fender in one of his latest photos, you can see a Rocky Mountain logo. Defending Youth Overall champ, Caleb Wood, has also shared his new Kawasaki ride thanking the team as well, so they’re looking to be pretty strong coming into 2024.
Speaking of riders working on their new deals, we’ve heard Josh Strang has something in the works. It’s still coming together, and this isn’t TMZ, so we don’t report news here until it’s been made official. However, Josh will be back for another go in 2024 which is awesome to hear. Josh has put together one of the most impressive careers in the history of the series. Strang won his first race in 2008, and his most recent win came at the 2023 Ironman season finale. That’s a 16-season span from first win to most current, which nobody else has ever done. By comparison, the next closest is Scott Summers who won his first race in 1988, and last in 1999 for a 12-season span. Here’s to hoping Josh extends that record even further!
Moving on, each year the Florida Trail Riders series serves as a bit of a hotbed for racers to get in some pre-season racing and they were in action last weekend with both ATV and motorcycle action. For the ATV race, Hunter Hart controlled the thing wire to wire but it wasn’t a total runaway win. Brandon Frazier opted to park the 4x4 for the FTR series and ran in second place behind Hunter on the opening lap. Jay Shadron would come through the pack on lap two to move into the second-place spot and that’s how they would end up staying the rest of the race. Hunter Hart would take the overall win with Jay Shadron in second and Brandon Frazier in third.
For Sunday’s motorcycle race, it should come as no huge surprise that Jesse Ansley would control the lead for the whole race to take the win. Jesse is another rider making a switch over the Kawasaki brand as he’ll be backed by Sarasota Powersports in 2024. Jesse actually rode a Kawasaki for a chunk of his youth racing career, so it’s fairly familiar territory for the Florida native. 2023 FMF XC3 class champ Toby Cleveland will be jumping into the XC2 class in 2024 and he tried his hand at last weekend’s FTR race, riding to a solid second place finish. Ansley is tough to beat at the FTR races, but Toby managed to keep him within striking distance throughout the majority of the race. Meanwhile, third place would go to Gavin Simon, who is a top contender in the GNCC 250 A class.
A bit further north the SXCS series ran their annual Hangover Hare Scramble next door to the famous Budds Creek MX in Maryland, and it was actually former XC1/XC2 racer Jed Haines taking the overall win there. But get this, Jed was actually riding the Vet A class. That’s pretty cool to see, and big congrats go out to Jed for the win. Maybe we’ll see him come out for a GNCC in 2024?
We’ll keep this week’s edition of Quick Fill a bit on the shorter side. There’s still a few weeks of off-season left, so we’ll save more goodies for the coming weeks. Enjoy your weekend and we’ll see you back here next week!