From KTM – Factory FMF/KTM rider Kailub Russell took the win and the points lead in the XC1 Pro class at the third round of the GNCC Series over teammate Charlie Mullins while WXC rider Kacy Martinez captured her third victory in a row.
Russell and Mullins both got off to a decent when the gate dropped but it was their teammate, Steward Baylor, that pulled the holeshot and led the group around the opening corner. It did not take long before Russell made the pass for the lead and began to check out on the rest of the pack. He would ride a mistake-free race to take the win with a comfortable two-minute lead at the end of the 3-hour race.
Mullins also worked his way through the pack and moved to 2nd place by the second lap of the race. He remained in that position with heavy pressure from the 3rd place ride of Josh Strang on the final two laps. Mullins was able to hold his ground and keep the runner-up position to gain valuable points for the championship.
Baylor was holding a podium position after pulling the holeshot for the first half of the race before he came into the pits and had to do an extended pit stop. He dropped to 6th place on the pit and spent the rest of the race catching back up to the lead group. He was able to pick off one rider to move into 5th overall for the day.
After three rounds, Russell now leads Mullins by one point in the championship chase. “We knew our riders would be battling for the championship once again,” stated Factory FMF/KTM Team Manager Antti Kallonen. “We are very proud of how they both rode today and we are happy that there were no issues for either rider and they finished safely at the top of the podium.”
KTM support rider Grant Baylor didn’t get the best jump off the line but made up for his poor start with a late charge in the final half of the race. He was able to move up from the bottom ten to 3rd overall in the XC2 Pro Lites class. He now sits 3rd in the point standings after three rounds.
Martinez captured her third win in a row in the WXC class where she remains undefeated. She pulled a massive gap on the rest of the pack to finish over 7 minutes ahead of the next competitor. Her win today helped her increase her lead on the overall point standings.
“I’m really happy to get another win,” commented Martinez. “I feel really fortunate to be on the factory team this year and I am happy I am up on the top step of the podium. I’m also happy to win another mud race but it would be nice if we could get a break from all this mud at the next round.”
From Husky – Andrew DeLong may not have experienced the race weekend he’d been hoping for but despite torrential rains, endless mud, huge ruts, extreme track conditions and a stacked field of competitors he wrapped it up with another top 10 finish at the Steel City GNCC.
“In a word this entire event was just plain tough – the weather, the mud, the ruts – all of it! Today only the tough survived and Andrew DeLong proved again that he’s a tough customer” said Husqvarna racing team manager, Andy Jefferson. “He may not have ended up with the podium finish we were hoping for, but I’m proud of the way Andrew rode and the way he kept his TE 350 going all the way to the checkered flag.”
According to Jefferson, DeLong didn’t get a spectacular start but soon he was battling toward the front runners. “As the race wore on, however it became apparent that Andrew wasn’t advancing as he normally would. We’ll know more in the next few days but there are some setup choices we’ll change for the future. This is a new team and we learn a lot every time we race so we can’t be disappointed.”
Jefferson also noted that Andrew was using a new suspended triple-clamp setup on his #10 Husqvarna. “The NK SFS air triple clamps is a pretty trick design that offers a lot of potential for our riders.”
Overall Results (both XC1 Pro and XC2 Pro Lites combined) –