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Russell heads KTM clean-sweep at GNCC round 2 – “brutal” Palakta course in Florida 

Kailub Russell claims Wild Boar GNCC 2020 round two victory ahead of Josh Strang and Ricky Russell at “brutal” Palakta, Florida course. 

 

Two rounds and two easy victories for FMF KTM Factory Racing Team’s Kailub Russell in the 2020 Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) series. The early season comes thick and fast for GNCC 2020 with round one just two weeks previous and round three on the bounce next weekend at The General in Washington, GA.

 
 

Wild Boar GNCC is known for its brutal course with a mixture of sand, black soil and a few mud holes in between. Added to that the course planners laid on four miles of fresh trail, which gave the pro riders a unique stretch of new terrain to factor into their already intense three-hour race. 

Kailub Russell has started 2020 like a rider on a mission. After his round one win, Kailub bagged the holeshot and never looked back at Wild Boar. Even a crash on lap three, when a vine got caught in his front brake, twisting the handlebars and jerking him off the bike, didn’t see him drop the ball. With a decent lead already, Russell had “time to spare” and the seven-time GNCC Champion gradually extended his lead to over two minutes by the flag.

“It was a tough day but I got a great start and just kind of did my own thing, trying not to make any mistakes.” Explained Russell. 

“I kept a pretty steady pace the first three laps and I was able to get that buffer and kind of bide my time and ride the final three laps. It’s easy to do that when you’re not under pressure and you can kind of pick your lines and get around the lappers a little more stress-free. It was a brutal course but it wasn’t as bad as it has been in years past.”

 
KAILUB RUSSELL GNCC RD 2 flag 560
 

If Kailub was fast out the blocks the story off was an opposite one for Babbitts Online Kawasaki rider, Josh Strang who was bang last off the start. Jordan Ashburn was P2 early on but dropped a place to Layne Michael on lap two who was fast early on.

Strang meanwhile was down in eighth as they crossed the line after lap one. Progressing to fifth a lap later before picking off a rider a lap in the last three laps to cement what has been a solid start to his season – Josh now sits second in the points, square on 46 with Ricky Russell.

 
Josh Strang Wild Boar GNCC 2020 560
 

It was not such a solid day for Sherco-mounted Baylor brothers. Steward was forced to retire at the end of lap one with a mechanical issue on his new Sherco mount. Grant meanwhile had to call in a replace his fuel tank and fuel pump which his team report put him down in 76th as he restarted. Bear that in mind then when you look at the final overall results where Grant placed eighth in class and 20th overall.

 
Grant Baylor Wild Boar GNCC 2020 Sherco 560
 

Sixth place shout out to Todd Kellett 

British motocross rider Todd Kellett, who finished second place in the infamous French Beach Race Championship in 2020 and is a multi-time Weston Beach Race winner, must also like the brutal Florida sand. Jumping stateside for his first GNCC race, Kellett took 10th overall and sixth in the Pro XC1 class. 

 
Todd Kellet GNCC 2020 Wild Boar 560
 

It was a solid day for KTM North America with orange riders took three of the main classes with Russell being joined by Trail Jesters KTM Racing Team’s Jonathan Girrior taking his first-career XC2 250 Pro win and KTM-mounted Zack Hayes topping the FMF XC3 125 Pro-Am division for the second-straight round.

Girrior came into Wild Boar on the back of a second place finish at the opening round. The Massachusetts native got off to a mid-pack start aboard his Trail Jesters KTM and sat outside the top-10 a mile into the opening lap. 

Lap three proved decisive in the battle for the lead with Girroir moving into the top spot by the halfway point. Leading the last four laps, Jonathan secured a 24-second victory in the class and fifth overall ahead of Mike Witowski and Craig Delong.

 
XC2 250 Wild Boar GNCC 2020 560
 

Jonathan Girrior: “Honestly, I didn’t hydrate and prepare myself for the race at Big Buck and I knew I had a lot more to show, so I was coming out here wanting to win really badly. I just want to continue getting on the podium and go after this XC2 Championship.” 

Zack Hayes, who secured his second win of the season in the FMF XC3 125 Pro-Am class. Hayes made a big climb from a 10th place start to ultimately take over the lead on the final lap of racing.  

 
XC3 125 Wild Boar GNCC 2020 560
 

Second WXC win for Becca Sheets

In the WXC class BABS Yamaha Racing’s Becca Sheets earned her second-straight overall (in the morning race) and WXC class win of 2020. 

It wasn’t without a fight though. After not the best of starts, Becca took the lead early on in the race and pulled a gap but crashed into palmettos and had to fight to regain the gap she had before. Sheets crossed the finish line 58 seconds ahead of the competition.

 
Becca Sheets Wild Boar GNCC 2020 560
 

Second place doesn’t tell half the story of Tayla Jones’ race. The GNCC champ had a mechanical issue at the start and had to pull over before the flag fell. Leaving behind the Sportsman A riders, Jones raced hard to haul herself back to a remarkable second place at the finish. 

Watch the full Wild Boar race back: RacerTV.com 

Next Race: Washington, Georgia – March 15, 2020 

Wild Boar GNCC 2020 Overall Results:

 
2020 GNCC round 2 Overall Race Results 1
 

National Championship Standings:

  1. Kailub Russell (60)
  2. Josh Strang (46)
  3. Ricky Russell (46)
  4. Jordan Ashburn (33)
  5. Michael Witkowski (31)
  6. Jonathan Girroir (28)
  7. Craig DeLong (25)
  8. Cody Barnes (20)
  9. Steward Baylor Jr. (18)
  10. Grant Baylor (15)

XC2 250 Pro Series Standings:

  1. Mike Witkowski (55)
  2. Jonathan Girroir (55)
  3. Craig DeLong (42)
  4. Cody Barnes (33)
  5. Jonathan Johnson (28)
  6. Liam Draper (28)
  7. Evan Smith (25)
  8. Jesse Ansley (25)
  9. Thorn Devlin (24)
  10. Simon Johnson (22)

Results by class: Racer-results.net

 

Photo Credit: Ken Hill
 
 
 
 
Byline jp ISDE 2018 Enduro21
Jon Pearson
Enduro21 Editor and Bike Tester
jon.pearson@enduro21.com