Round 12 of the 2019 Amsoil Grand National Cross Country Series played out at a brand new venue at Summit Bechtel Reserve in West Virginia, where it marked the premier running of the Yamaha Mountaineer GNCC. Located on more than 14,000 acres, the new venue, which is managed by the National Council of the Scouts of America, was spectacular. The race itself was a tough one and, in the end, produced anything but your standard GNCC results but did yield a familiar champion.
Kailub Russell Clinches 2019 GNCC Title
FMF KTM Factory Racing’s Kailub Russell clinched his seventh-career AMA Grand National Cross Country Series Championship despite not finishing the race.
Russell had a nasty crash while practicing earlier in the week and injured his shoulder. It was still bothering him during the race on Sunday, and after running in third place midway into the three-hour race, Russell decided to call it a day rather than take a chance of further injury.
Russell’s chief rival in the title chase, Rockstar Energy/Factory Husqvarna Racing’s Thad Duvall, also suffered an injury before the race and was a spectator in West Virginia. He suffered a season-ending leg injury the Tuesday before the Mountaineer GNCC. Russell basically secured the championship right then and there but didn’t make it official until the race actually started. So, DNF or not, Russell, once again, is the GNCC champ.
With both Russell and Duvall on the sidelines, Trail Jesters KTM’s Ben Kelley took advantage of the situation and came away with his first XC1 Pro win in only his second race in the division. The two-time and current XC2 250 Pro National Champion ran in second place behind Tely Energy KTM’s Steward Baylor for much of the race; however, Steward also dropped out on the final lap, opening the door for Kelley to make history. This left three championship contenders watching the finish of the race in street clothes, while a first-time winner crossed the finish line.
Ben Kelley Wins Moutaineer GNCC
At one point in the race, Steward led by a 24-second margin over Kelley, only to stall his bike on the final lap and was unable to restart it.
Kelley took the win with two minutes and 35 seconds to spare over Steward’s brother, Grant Baylor, with FMF/KTM Factory Racer Josh Toth in third.
Grant made an inspired run through the pack, going from just inside the top 10 on the first lap, to fourth with three laps to go. When Russell and Steward dropped out, Grant moved into second. The Tely Energy Racing KTM rider was happy to have a problem-free race finally.
Toth rounded out the podium, which is perhaps a good sign for this year’s U.S. ISDE effort since the three podium finishers make up this year’s Junior Trophy Team.
Having finished second at the previous two rounds, Ricky Russell was hoping to take that last leap to the final step of the podium. However, the AmPro Yamaha/Moose Racing/Parts Unlimited-backed rider missed the podium by about 50 seconds for a fourth overall finish. After sitting out the first four rounds due to an injury, Ricky Russell managed to work his way up into sixth overall in the series standings.
Rockstar Energy/Factory Husqvarna Racing’s Trevor Bollinger, who finished fifth overall on the day, dropped to fifth in the points standings from fourth, when Kelley leapfrogged him in the standings thanks to his win.
Coastal Racing/Husqvarna’s Craig Delong turned in a solid ride that earned him the win in the XC2 250 Pro class win with a sixth overall finish.
Liam Draper, who had won the XC2 250 Pro class at the previous two races, dropped out due to a mechanical issue.
In his first race back from injury, Babbitts Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Josh Strang edged Phoenix Honda Racing’s Andrew Delong by four seconds to claim seventh.
Beta USA’s Mike Witkowski and New Jersey’s Ryder Lafferty had a similar outcome, with Witkowski finishing 12 seconds ahead of Lafferty for ninth. Witkowski was second in the XC2 250 Pro class, while Lafferty was third.
In the FMF XC3 125 Pro-Am class, Trail Jesters/KTM’s Jesse Ansley kept his chances of winning a second-straight class championship alive with a win over XC Gear/Enduro Engineering/Husqvarna’s Jake Froman. Froman grabbed his first win of the series at the previous round in New York.
West Virginia rider Jake Lipscomb was third on a KTM.
In Saturday’s WXC Women’s race, Husqvarna’s Tayla Jones increased her chances of winning the WXC title by beating Mepmx/Fly/Grizzly Peak/Traveler’s Rest Speedway/KTM’s Mackenzie Tricker for the win.
Fly/Maxxis/Pro Circuit/KTM’s Becca Sheets finished third.
– Shan Moore
2019 Amsoil GNCC Championship
Summit Bechtel Reserve
Beckley, West Virginia
RESULTS: October 13, 2019
- Ben Kelley (KTM)
- Grant Baylor (KTM)
- Josh Toth (KTM)
- Ricky Russell (Yam)
- Trevor Bollinger (Hus)
- Craig DeLong (Hus)
- Josh Strang (Kaw)
- Andrew DeLong (Hon)
- Mike Witkowski (Bet)
- Ryder Lafferty (KTM)