UNION, S.C. – Four rounds into the 2022 AMA Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) Series and FMF KTM Factory Racing’s Ben Kelley continues to dominate the XC1 Open Pro Championship following his fourth-consecutive win at Sunday’s Tiger Run GNCC. The defending champion delivered a mistake-free performance throughout the intense three-hour battle, coming away with yet another flag-to-flag victory in 2022.
Kelley wasn’t the first rider off the line for the start but he quickly powered his KTM 350 XC-F into the lead through the first few turns. Slowly gapping the field with each lap that passed, the New England native really put on a charge in the final hour to extend his lead to almost a minute-and-a-half when the checkered flag flew.
Ben Kelley: “It’s a long season and everyone is going fast out there, so I’m just going to keep working hard, having fun and taking it one race at a time. I’m just trying to enjoy it, every win is awesome, and I’m trying not to just breeze over them like I have in the past and really savor them.”
Coming off a hard-fought podium finish at the last round, team rider Josh Toth experienced a more challenging day at the fourth round. He started off inside the top-five on the opening lap, battling just outside podium contention aboard his KTM 350 XC-F. Dropping back to seventh at the end of the first hour, Toth took some time to get into his groove before charging back into the top-five mid-way through the race. Clicking off solid laps, he was able to make up solid ground on the front-runners ahead but a couple of racing incidents cost him valuable time late in the race and he ultimately came through seventh in class and 10th overall.
Josh Toth: “Not a great day for me. I got a decent start and rode mid-pack for the first two laps but I couldn’t quite get comfortable. I finally started feeling comfortable and reeling in the top guys but then I had an incident with another racer that cut down in front of me and I had nowhere to go so I slammed into him. On the same lap, I had another incident with a lapper and just mangled my bike. I had to get the front-end straightened out just so I could keep rolling and I lost a bunch of time. I’m definitely ready for the next round!”
Trail Jesters KTM Racing’s Korie Steede earned her first-career WXC victory following a hard-fought battle with fellow KTM-Supported rider and accomplished west coast offroad racer, Brandy Richards. Steede grabbed a second-place start with Richards close in tow and the two riders found themselves alone in the lead battle when the race leader went down on lap two. With Richards assuming the lead on lap two, Steede chased her down for the next two laps before putting on a last-lap pass amidst lapped traffic to overtake the win late in the race. In her first-ever GNCC race, Richards came through only four seconds behind in an exciting battle to the finish.
Next Race: Camp Coker Bullet GNCC – Society Hill, South Carolina – April 10, 2022