Charlie Mullins beat out Kailub Russell to win the first round of the GNCC series in Lake Wales, Florida. Photography By: Shan Moore
(Lake Wales, Florida, March 12, 2013) – Charlie Mullins drew first blood in the 2013 Amsoil Grand National Cross Country Series by taking a hard fought win over FMF/KTM teammate Kailub Russell at round one of the series at Westgate River Ranch in Lake Wales, Florida.
On a treacherous and grueling course, mostly consisting of deep, whooped-out sand, Mullins and Russell battled back and forth for much of the early going, with Russell taking a small lead over Mullins at one point. However, when Mullins finally got the advantage at the midway point of the race he was able to pull away to take the win, finishing with just over seven seconds to spare over Russell.
“This is a tough race and it’s good to come out of here with a win,” said Mullins. “Kailub and I had a good battle, but I had a good line in the whoop section and I was able to get around him and get a good lead.”
Third place behind Russell went to Rocky Mountain ATV/MC Racing Kawasaki rider Josh Strang, who passed defending series champ Paul Whibley for the position with two laps to go in the race.
“This is my first race back in a long time so I’m a little rusty, so I’m happy to make it on the podium,” said Strang, who spent a big part of last year recovering from a broken leg he suffered at the end of 2011.
Fourth place went to Am Pro Yamaha’s Paul Whibley, who grabbed the holeshot to start the race and led part of the first lap until he got a stick jammed in his back brake and dropped out of contention.
Fifth in the XC-1 class went to Team Shenandoah Honda/USWE-Sport’s Thad DuVall, while KR4 Performance KTM-backed Chris Bach rounded out the top six.
The XC-2 class featured a wild battle between FAR Husqvarna’s Andrew DeLong and Pro Motocrosser Zach Osborne, who was riding his GEICO Honda practice Supercross bike in just his second GNCC race.
DeLong got off to a slow start when he fell in the second turn, however, the Pennsylvania rider soon caught up to Osborne at the front of the pack and the two riders traded positions until DeLong managed to break away and take the win.
Late in the race, Dirtwise Schools/KTM-Parts.com’s Jason Thomas moved around Osborne, as well.
“I’ve been down here in Florida working really hard with Chris Borich and it feels good to see that all the hard work is paying off,” said DeLong. “I really had a good time out there and that helped me ride good.”
Second went to Thomas, while third went to Osborne, who is not accustomed to the three-hour race format, didn’t have as much fun as DeLong.
“I had fun for about a lap, and then after that I was miserable,” Osborne joked.
1. Charlie Mullins (KTM)
2. Kailub Russell (KTM)
3. Josh Strang (Kaw)
4. Paul Whibley (Yam)
5. Thad DuVall (Hon)
6. Chris Bach (KTM)
7. Nick Fahringer (Hsb)
8. Ricky Russell (Yam)
9. Garrett Edmisten (Kaw)
10. Takeshi Koikeda (Hon)
1. Andrew DeLong (Hsq)
2. Jason Thomas (KTM)
3. Zach Osborne (Hon)
4. Jedediah Haines (Yam)
5. Grant Baylor (KTM)
6. Lane Michael (KTM)
7. Jesse Groemm (Yam)
8. Shane Hufford (KTM)
9. Mark Heresco Jr. (KTM)
10. Ian Blythe (KTM)