The summer break for the Grand National Cross Country series is over as the second half of the season kicked off at the historic Unadilla Motocross for round 10 of the 13 round series. The story leading into the second part of the season was whether or not Thad Duvall could come out firing both barrels and make Kailub Russell work for that number one plate however an injury at the ISDE would force Duvall to not be in competition giving Russell a huge break in pressure as the points battle was getting quite intense and Duvall had shown no signs of cutting the champ any slack leading up to the summer break. The news of Duvall’s injury was devastating to not only himself and his team but for the fans that have been driving him to topple Russell who seemed all but unstoppable. With Duvall at home, it remained unclear who would come out to take on Kailub here at Unadilla.

2017 Unadilla GNCC Tayla Jones
Tayla Jones clinched her first WXC championship as the KR4 Performance team celebrates on the podium.Ken Hill

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The crowds at Unadilla never cease to disappoint as the legendary motocross track gets to see some use as the 10-mile track utilizes portions to make up a very unique mix of motocross and typical GNCC style course that is anything but easy. The weather can really change things and this year was no exception. Rains earlier in the week leading up to the event added an element to rocks that varied in size, both seen and those who laid in wait for unsuspecting riders. Lapper’s also are an obstacle here as this race draws huge numbers as just shy of 2000 riders would try and tame the New York dirt. The sunshine graced all in attendance as the 1 p.m. start neared and we all would soon see who brought what to the table and who was ready to keep Russell in check.

2017 Unadilla GNCC Grant Baylor
Grant Baylor working his way through the Unadilla woods.Ken Hill

Ricky Russell rocketed out of the first turn and would grab the XC1 holeshot as the class sorted itself out as they headed for the trees as the three-hour race began. The early laps would see Ricky Russell and Ryan Sipes setting the pace as other riders began climbing up the running order. One hillclimb was giving everyone trouble and the XC1 Pro class was no exception and is credited to several of the lead changes and passes were able to be made as the slick conditions took its toll. Sipes looked like he was going to be a player, however, a previous injury started causing him issues and forced him out of the race. It was turning in to the Russell and Russell show up front as the lead swapped several times finally seeing Kailub take the lead and be able to mount a charge that would finally put some distance between himself and one very hard charging Ricky Russell. With the conditions working against the riders at certain sections, rappers were coming in to play as the XC1 class started having to pick their way through them carefully. Josh Strange was putting in a solid ride until he connected with a lapper and damaged his radiator forcing him out of the race. Attrition was coming into play and all eyes were on XC2 racer Layne Michael as he was closing in on an overall podium finish after time adjustment. The rider on the move, however, was none other than Steward Baylor Jr. Baylor was picking up where he left off before the summer break and was stomping his way to the front.

2017 Unadilla GNCC Ricky Russell
Ricky Russell charging to the XC1 Pro holeshot.Ken Hill

The checkered flag was flying high when Kailub Russell crossed the finish line capturing another win and edging closer to locking up another championship. It is unknown if Thad Duvall can return to racing before the next round however several riders showed they aren’t letting him cruise to another number one plate without a fight. The Pro podium would be locked up as Steward Baylor Jr. would claim 2nd and Ricky Russell would take home 3rd, but first, XC2 rider Layne Michael would take his place on the podium as his incredible effort gave him third overall from the second row.

2017 Unadilla GNCC
The first turn is always filled with excitement.Ken Hill

XC1 Open Pro Event Results:

  1. Kailub Russell (KTM)
  2. Steward Baylor (KTM)
  3. Ricky Russell (YAM)
  4. Trevor Bollinger (HON)
  5. Jordan Ashburn (BET)
  6. Russell Bobbitt (KTM)
  7. Grant Baylor (HSQ)
  8. Philippe Chaine (KTM)
  9. Josh Strang (HSQ)
  10. Ryan Sipes (HSQ)
2017 Unadilla GNCC Craig DeLong
Craig DeLong putting the power to the ground as the XC2 class heads for turn two.Ken Hill
2017 Unadilla GNCC
The FMF XC3 class battling it out in the first turn.Ken Hill
2017 Unadilla GNCC Ryan Sipes
Ryan Sipes had a great start and looked to be running strong until an injury forced him into the pits and out of the race.Ken Hill
2017 Unadilla GNCC Layne Michael
Layne Michael powered his way to the XC2 lead and beyond.Ken Hill
2017 Unadilla GNCC Russell Bobbitt
Russell Bobbitt clears a jump on the motocross section.Ken Hill
2017 Unadilla GNCC Ryan Sipes
Ryan Sipes giving the fans a show over Skyshot.Ken Hill
2017 Unadilla GNCC Stewart Baylor Jr
Steward Baylor Jr. taming the legendary Unadilla MX track.Ken Hill
2017 Unadilla GNCC Ben Kelley
Ben Kelley rode extremely well and put together a podium-finishing race in XC2.Ken Hill
2017 Unadilla GNCC Josh Toth
Josh Toth has been all but untouchable in 2017, however, this round wasn’t kind to him as he finished of the podium with 4th in XC2.Ken Hill
2017 Unadilla GNCC Kailub Russell
Kailub Russell dealing with traffic on his way to another win.Ken Hill
2017 Unadilla GNCC Jordan Ashburn
Jordan Ashburn trying to find a smooth line.Ken Hill
2017 Unadilla GNCC Stewart Baylor
Stew Baylor pushing hard from start to finish.Ken Hill
2017 Unadilla GNCC Layne Michael
Layne Michael on his way to 3rd overall.Ken Hill
2017 Unadilla GNCC Ryan Sipes
Ryan Sipes looked so strong early in the race.Ken Hill
2017 Unadilla GNCC Kailub Russell
Kailub Russell out front and on his way to another win.Ken Hill
2017 Unadilla GNCC Stewart Baylor Jr
Baylor airing out Skyshot.Ken Hill
2017 Unadilla GNCC Josh Strang
Josh Strang before his day ended.Ken Hill
2017 Unadilla GNCC Jason Thomas
Jason Thomas had something to prove this round and took the FMF XC3 class win.Ken Hill
2017 Unadilla GNCC Paul Whibley
Paul Whibley was back in action here at Unadilla.Ken Hill
2017 Unadilla GNCC Kailub Russell
Kailub Russell showed Unadilla no mercy.Ken Hill
2017 Unadilla GNCC Stewart Baylor
Steward Baylor, high speed, low drag.Ken Hill
2017 Unadilla GNCC Trevor Bollinger
Trevor Bollinger just missed the podium with his 4th place finish in XC1.Ken Hill
2017 Unadilla GNCC Kailub Russell
Kailub Russell is no stranger to the checkered flag.Ken Hill