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Bulldog GNCC: Kailub Russell gets “lucky” with fourth win of 2020

Luck plays a hand in Kailub Russell’s fourth straight Grand National Cross Country win of 2020 at The Bulldog GNCC where Ricky Russell and Josh Strang took the fight to the reigning champion – Ricky Russell dramatically crashed out on the final lap.

 

After a two-month hiatus due to the COVID-19 situation, GNCC Racing sparked back into life at the Bulldog at the same venue they left back in March at round three, Aonia Pass MX – albeit amid a very different atmosphere amid face masks and social distancing. 

Kailub Russell held a relatively comfortable lead through the first two hours of the Bulldog GNCC, until lappers and pitstops allowed Coastal Racing’s Ricky Russell and Babbitt’s Online Kawasaki’s Josh Strang to close the gap. As the white flag flew, Russell, Ricky Russell and Josh Strang passed the pits in close contention. Ricky then traded the lead with Kailub in the final lap until, reports from the track say, a clash between the pair took Ricky down in a high-speed section, braking his handlebars in the process which in turn injured his leg resulting in a hospital trip – get well soon Ricky.

That let Kailub Russell off the hook in what looked like becoming another down-to-the-wire final lap, just as it had at the previous round between Russell and Steward Baylor (who was sitting out the race after parting ways with FactoryONE Sherco). 

XC1 Open Pro race start – Russell gets the holeshot and early lead…

 

Kailub it was then who maintained his 100% winning record in 2020, taking four from four and crossing the line four seconds ahead of Strang. “I was pretty relaxed out there the first three-quarters of the race,” said Kailub who suffered with a lack of hydration durign the race, “I got the holeshot and led pretty much the first five laps and then I got held up a little bit behind some lappers and those guys sucked right up to me. Ricky [Russell] was riding really good and it was kind of his race to win at the end but he went down pretty hard and I got lucky a little bit.”

Speaking about the last lap incident with Ricky Russell to CycleNews, Kailub says, “He kamikaze’d himself there about the three or four-mile marker. He tried a crazy line…We were racing hard and not giving up an inch, but it was a completely avoidable crash.” 

Josh Strang came home in second place after working his way through the dust from seventh place early on. It was another hard fought podium for Strang and the result, plus Ricky Russell’s no-points score, puts Strang second in the points and Kailub’s nearest challenger in the championship. Who would have predicted that at the start of the season?

 
Josh Strang GNCC 2020 560
 

Craig DeLong takes second-straight XC2 win

Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing Team’s Craig DeLong earned his second-straight XC2 250 Pro class victory at the Bulldog GNCC after an impressive performance in the class and overall where he took first and third places respectively.

DeLong repeated Russell’s XC1 pattern to take the holeshot and pushing hard in the early half of the race. Passing his way through the XC1 field, Craig grew a 54 second lead (in class) at the halfway point before slowing the pace in the final laps to finish eight-second ahead of Ryder Lafferty. 

 
CRAIG DELONG GNCC RD 4 2020 560
 

With four rounds completed, DeLong now holds the lead in the XC2 250 Pro Championship: “It felt weird to take some time off, so to be back racing feels really good and it’s even better to come away with my second-straight win,” DeLong said. “I had some pre-race jitters, I felt like it was the first race all over again but I’m happy to get it over with and keep moving forward in the championship standings. We’ve taken over the lead there and that’s really my goal right now and that’s ultimately what we’re working for.”

For his part Ryder Lafferty put in his best performance of the season (read ever at GNCC) bringing it home second, just eight seconds down at the finish. The season has been a tough one for the young XC Gear/EnduroEngineering/Husqvarna team rider who injured his foot early on. The lay-off time has clearly helped with recovery time and allowed a step up to the podium.

Check Lafferty's slick pitstop during the race…

 

Another WXC victory for Becca Sheets

In the WXC class, Becca Sheets continues to set the pace this season on the Yamaha. Earning herself a fourth overall win at the Bulldog GNCC, Sheets finished ahead of Tayla Jones who had to battle her way through the pack pushing Rachael Archer into a third place. Jumping off the line first and grabbing the holeshot, Mackenzie Tricker had to retire out of race winning contention on lap two with a broken clutch.

 
Becca Sheets GNCC 2020 Yamaha 560
 

Bulldog GNCC overall results:

  1. Kailub Russell             XC1 Open Pro  2hr:44:54
  2. Josh Strang                XC1 Open Pro  2:44:59
  3. Craig DeLong             XC2 250 Pro    2:47:41
  4. Layne Michael            XC1 Open Pro  2:47:44
  5. Ryder Lafferty             XC2 250 Pro    2:47:49
  6. Jordan Ashburn          XC1 Open Pro  2:48:14
  7. Josh Toth                    XC1 Open Pro  2:49:28
  8. Grant Baylor               XC1 Open Pro  2:50:23
  9. Mike Witkowski          XC2 250 Pro    2:50:35
  10. Andrew DeLong         XC1 Open Pro  2:52:24
  11. Jonathan Girroir         XC2 250 Pro    2:52:31
  12. Cody Barnes              XC2 250 Pro    2:54:47
  13. Thorn Devlin               XC2 250 Pro    2:54:56
  14. Jonathan Johnson      XC2 250 Pro    2:54:58
  15. Liam Draper                XC2 250 Pro    2:57:22
  16. Brody Johnson           250 A               2:59:22
  17. Ben Nelko                   XC2 250 Pro    3:00:47
  18. Ryder LeBlond            XC2 250 Pro    3:01:24
  19. Simon Johnson           XC2 250 Pro    3:01:34
  20. Heath Harrison           XC2 250 Pro    3:01:39
 

GNCC 2020 points standing after four rounds:

 GNCC Racing Championship points rnd4 2020
 
 
Photo Credit: Shan Moore + Ken Hill
 
 
 
 
Byline jp ISDE 2018 Enduro21
Jon Pearson
Enduro21 Editor and Bike Tester
jon.pearson@enduro21.com