Kailub Russell Claims Sixth GNCC Title
FMF KTM Factory Racing Team’s Kailub Russell wrapped up his sixth consecutive GNCC Overall National Championship at Round 12 of the Grand National Cross Country Series in Ohio, USA. Here’s the offical news from KTM…
It was an outstanding day for KTM riders at Sunday’s Powerline Park GNCC and FMF KTM Factory Racing’s Kailub Russell led the charge to a sixth-straight GNCC National Championship with a poised performance at the penultimate round of the 2018 AMA Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) Series in St. Clairsville, Ohio.
Joining Russell atop the overall podium was XC2 250 Pro rider, Ben Kelley, with an impressive third-place finish from the second row. Trail Jesters Racing KTM’s Kelley battled with championship rival – FMF KTM Factory Racing’s Josh Toth – all afternoon before solidifying his sixth class-win of the season to extend his points lead with one round remaining.
Additionally, FMF/RPM/KTM Team Maxxis Racing’s Jesse Ansley won the FMF XC3 125 Pro-Am Championship with his sixth victory of the season on Sunday. Ansley, who has been a KTM-mounted rider throughout his decorated youth and amateur racing career, continues to progress his way through the ranks making a big step with his first-professional championship in GNCC.
Russell came into the weekend with a pre-existing shoulder injury but that didn’t stop the 28-year-old from going after his sixth consecutive title on Sunday. As the green flag waved to start the XC1 Open Pro race, Russell commanded the holeshot and led the first few miles of the race before a small mistake dropped him back to second early on. About four miles in, another rider bobbled in front of him going up the ‘FMF Powerpoint’ hillclimb, forcing him to choose an alternative line and ultimately not make it up the hill. As a result, Russell found himself in the back of the pack as he began his charge from nearly last-place to podium contention by lap two.
On the second-to-last lap, Russell reclaimed the lead and attempted to hold off DuVall on the final lap. A bad line selection by Russell caused him to go down in a mud hole and DuVall inherited the lead once again. With only five miles to go, Russell made the decision to safely bring it home for second – clinching his sixth consecutive GNCC National Championship with one round remaining in the 2018 season.
Russell is scheduled to have surgery this Tuesday to repair his injured left shoulder, therefore missing the final round of the GNCC Series in Indiana. Furthermore, Russell has been withdrawn from the U.S. World Trophy Team lineup for the upcoming International Six Days Enduro (ISDE) in Chile as he begins his recovery process in preparation for the 2019 race season.
Russell: “I wasn’t really 100% coming into this race, or into the last one, so I knew it was going to be tough and I had it in the back of my mind that I had to be careful. I got the first two laps underway and I felt pretty good. I was content riding behind Thad, but he ended up gassing again or something and I got around him in the pits but I didn’t really want to be in the lead, I just wanted to follow him into the finish, to be honest. But then I got in the lead and I just kind of maintained, I was riding my own race at my pace and I thought I was going to pull it off there at the end, or I was going to try to anyway. Halfway through the last lap, I was still in the lead but I took a bad line and fell over in a little bit of mud and that was all she wrote. Thad rode good, he’s been riding good all year. The next few years are going to be tough but I’ve kind of realized that you don’t have to win them all. It’s pretty amazing just to click them (six championships) all off in a row like this. It’s hard to take it all in.”
Overall 2018 GNCC Results
1. Thad DuVall, HQV
2. Kailub Russell, KTM
3. Ben Kelley, KTM
4. Grant Baylor, KTM
5. Josh Toth, KTM
6. Steward Baylor Jr., KTM