If blasting down steep rocky ski runs flat out in fifth gear can be considered routine, then Kailub Russell had a rather routine day en route to the victory at the Snowshoe GNCC at Snowshoe Mountain Resort in West Virginia, June 24.
2018 Snowshoe GNCC Results
Generally considered the crown jewel of the AMSOIL Grand National Cross Country Series, the Snowshoe GNCC stands out among off-road races thanks to its unique and technically demanding mountainous terrain. The event is consistently the most difficult of the 13-round GNCC schedule and a steady rain throughout the weekend made this year’s event even more treacherous. However, Kailub didn’t let the outrageous terrain deter him, and took control of the race from early leader Thad DuVall at the midway point of the race. Duvall eventually dropped out of the race due to a hand injury, leaving Russell all alone out front, where after three hours of racing he claimed a “fairly routine” victory by 48 seconds over second place.
“I didn’t have any crashes or get stuck, so it was a fairly routine race,” said Kailub. “It was the usual cat and mouse game with Thad at first, but going into the last lap and a half I was able to open up the gap. Then on the last lap, I got the pitboard that Thad had crashed and was out. This is a tough race and I’m happy to get the win heading into the summer break, but I’m bummed for Thad.”
Grant Baylor is known to shine in adverse conditions and this year’s Snowshoe certainly could certainly be considered adverse. After the start, the Tely Energy KTM rider moved quickly into third place (on adjusted time) from his third row start position (Snowshoe has a unique start proceedure since it starts in the heart of the resort town, with five riders leaving every five seconds, leaving in order of their status in the current top 20 standings). On the final lap, Baylor did just what he needed to do to steal the runner-up slot from JCR Honda’s Trevor Bollinger.
“I was running good but then Trevor flew by me on one of the ski slopes on the last lap, so I had to bear down and stay with him,” said Baylor. “My rear tire was worn and it was not hooking up and he had just changed tires so he was getting good traction on the ski slope hills, so that was killing me, but I just knuckled down and pushed as hard as I could and it was just enough.”
Baylor crossed the finish line behind Bollinger but took second place by three seconds over the Honda rider after the times were adjusted.
“It was a crazy day because I really didn’t know where I was at because of the adjusted time situation,” added Baylor. “Even after I crossed the finish line I wasn’t sure where I placed until someone told me.”
Fourth overall behind Bollinger went to Ben Kelley. With the finish, the Trailjesters KTM rider was first in the XC2 250 Pro class, extending his lead in the class standings to 13 points over FMF KTM’s Josh Toth, who was fifth overall at Snowshoe and second in class. The two riders have battled back and forth all season for the XC2 champsionship, with Kelley adding his fourth win in the class this weekend compared to five wins for Toth.
Ricky Russell finished the grueling event in sixth overall after briefly running in second during the opening lap. Meanwhile, Steward Baylor, who tore his ACL last weekend at a Full Gas Sprint Enduro round, nursed a sore knee to seventh overall.
J-Day Sprint Enduro ace Jonathan Girroir (Suz), Honda-mounted Austin Lee and Ryder Lafferty (KTM) rounded out the top 10.
Alex Teagarden (Hsq) won the FMF XC3 125 Pro-Am class with a 17th overall finish, while Jesse Ansley (KTM) was second with a 20th overall finish. Former Hare Scramble National Champion Jason Raines (Yam) finished third in the class with a 26th overall finish.
In the Women’s XCW class, KR4 Husqvarna’s Tayla Jones finished a minute-and-a-half ahead of Fly/Maxxis/Seat Concepts KTM rider Becca Sheets, with Beta USA’s Rachel Gutish finishing third.
Snowshoe Mountain Resort, West Virginia
RESULTS: June 24, 2018
- Kailub Russell (KTM)
- Grant Baylor (KTM)
- Trevor Bollinger (Hon)
- Ben Kelley (KTM)
- Josh Toth (KTM)
- Ricky Russell (Yam)
- Steward Baylor (KTM)
- Jonathan Girroir (Suz)
- Austin Lee (Hon)
- Ryder Lafferty (KTM)
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