MT. MORRIS, Pa – FMF KTM Factory Racing Team’s Kailub Russell clinched his eighth-consecutive GNCC National Championship on Sunday with a courageous podium performance at Round 11 of the 2020 AMA Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) Series.
Russell came into Sunday’s Mason-Dixon GNCC with a comfortable lead in the championship standings but after sustaining a PCL and lateral meniscus tear in a big crash two weekends ago, Russell dug deep to push through the adversity as he fought for three grueling hours through the extremely dusty conditions to land a podium finish and wrap up his eighth straight title in his final year of professional GNCC racing.
Kailub Russell: "To win one title is tough and to back it up is even harder, so to keep it going and go eight-straight is unreal. I never would have dreamed it was an actual possibility. There are too many variables in offroad racing – there’s too much going on, too much time out there on the track and too many different conditions. Today, the track today was completely brutal. If we wouldn’t have done two filter swaps there’s no way we would have made it – it was pure silt from the drop of the gate. I banged myself up a couple weeks ago at the last race and I was a little unsure of how it was going to go but we took it easy the last couple of weeks and I really just wanted to get this thing out of the way so I just kept my nose to the ground today and we were able to make it happen. I have to give it up to the whole team, without Antti and everybody that supports us, this would never be possible. It’s been a real honor to race for the factory KTM team my entire career and finish it out with them, and to go out on top is awesome.”
Team Manager, Antti Kallonen: “Congratulations to Kailub and the entire team. Eight consecutive GNCC Championships speaks volumes of Kailub and the team that has stood behind him from day one. It has been true pleasure working with Kailub for all of his eight championships and this last one tops his amazing GNCC career.”
XC1 Open Pro
As the green flag waived, Russell powered his KTM 350 XC-F into a third-place position to round the opening lap in podium contention. He maintained that position for the first hour of the race but he came in for a preventative pit-stop where the crew swapped out his air filter to keep his machine fresh through the heavy dust. Russell was able to battle his way back up to second-place on lap four but he once again lost time as he came in for another preventative air filter change. With the championship title in his sights, Russell maintained a solid pace through the final lap of racing to ultimately finish on the podium in third.
His teammate, Kelley, put forth a solid performance all afternoon despite a rough start to the day. Kelley made a mistake on the start as he powered his KTM 350 XC-F too early and immediately shut it down. Getting off to a last place start, Kelley was forced to sit for a 15-second penalty on the opening lap where he began the race in eighth-place. He worked his way up to third just after the halfway point and from there he overtook second with two laps to go. With an incredible last-lap charge, Kelley charged his way into sight of the race leader, where he finished only 1.8 seconds back for second place.
Ben Kelley: "Today was tough, it seemed like everything was going wrong. I started my bike too early and shut it off trying to do the right thing but I ended up with a dead last start and I got stopped for 15 seconds on the first lap. But, I just pushed as best I could to get through. I was able to reel in Stu but it was like a mile from the finish and when I caught him there was nothing I could do with that dust. I’m happy with second but this one hurts a little compared to the last two because I was so close and I felt like I could have gotten it done but hats off to Stu and in another two weeks we’ll try again.”
XC2 250 Pro
Trail Jester’s Racing/KTM’s Jonathan Girroir maintains the championship points lead in the XC2 250 Pro class following a top-five performance at the 11th round.
Next Race: Round 12 – Ironman GNCC – October 25, 2020
For more information on the GNCC schedule, please visit www.gnccracing.com
XC1 Open Pro Results – Mason-Dixon GNCC
- Steward Baylor Jr., YAM, 02:54:41.93
- Ben Kelley, KTM, +01.805
- Kailub Russell, KTM, +01:54.951
Overall Championship Standings
- Kailub Russell, 277 points (7 wins)
- Josh Strang, 216 (1 win)
- Jordan Ashburn, 173
- Ben Kelley, 132
XC2 250 Pro Results – Mason-Dixon GNCC
- Mike Witkowski, YAM
- Cody Barnes, BET
- Craig DeLong, HQV
XC2 250 Pro Championship Standings
- Jonathan Girroir, 270 (5 wins)
- Craig DeLong, 266 (3 wins)
- Michael Witkowski, 264 points (3 wins)