WASHINGTON, Ga. – With FMF KTM Factory Racing’s Ben Kelley at the helm for the third-consecutive round, KTM riders once again dominated the XC1 podium as teammate Josh Toth delivered a stand-out performance to secure second overall at Round 3 of the AMA Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) Series. Swapping the lead among themselves, the fellow New England natives controlled most of the three-hour race to give their FMF KTM Factory Racing Team a special podium celebration in Georgia.
It was Toth who got off the line first aboard his KTM 350 XC-F, while Kelley sat in third on the opening lap. Charging up to second by the end of the first hour, the defending champion swapped positions with his teammate a few times before finally making a pass for the lead on lap three. Slowly pulling a gap through the second half of racing, Kelley was able to put himself into a comfortable position on the final lap and he cruised to a third-straight victory at Round 3.
Ben Kelley: “I’m feeling good and everything has been clicking so far, I think I learned a lot from last year. It was a gnarly race out there today and I wasn’t really sure about my lines but it ended up working out. I started in third and we were just freight-training on the first lap – I was following those guys and Josh had a crash, so I moved into second. Josh snuck by me and got out front and I got back into second and it was cool, it felt like XC2 days. I tried to make a pass on him but he was riding good and we had the same lines, kind of. He caught a loose rock on a downhill, so I got a freebie pass and got around him. I was able to slowly pull a gap on lap five and just maintain it from there.”
Just seven days after a tough bout in Florida, Toth was able to put all the pieces together from start to finish. Leading the charge into the woods, he got caught up in some ruts and went down early on but he was able to fight his way back into the lead before the end of lap one. Holding off his hard-charging teammate, Toth maintained the lead for a majority of the first hour before Kelley finally got by and from there, he rode strong to claim a season-best runner-up finish.
Josh Toth: “It felt awesome to be back up there riding with Ben. I got off to a great jump and just rode my own race. I made a mistake on lap one and they got away but I just started following their lines to see where they were going – it was mayhem with all the ruts on lap one. I didn’t know what to expect coming into this weekend, I was exhausted but I rode my own race, gave it everything I had and I’m stoked to be in second.”
Next Race: Tiger Run GNCC – Union, South Carolina – March 27, 2022