2019 Tomahawk GNCC Race Report

Kailub Russell claims fourth win of the season and extends his point lead.

Kailub Russell races at the 2019 Tomahawk GNCC Race.
Kailub Russell gets the drop on the competition at the start of the XC1 Pro class race. Russell stayed upright and claimed his fourth win of the season.Darrin Chapman

FMF KTM Factory Racing's Kailub Russell claimed his fourth win of the season in the muddiest of conditions at the Tomahawk GNCC in Alpine, New York. Heavy rains before and during the race made just staying on the bike a major feat. With the win, Russell has increased his lead in the 2019 AmsOil Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) Series standings to an 18-point advantage over Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing's Thad Duvall.

“It was really fun there for a while,” Russell said. “The rain came down and I was loving it. It was the best thing that could have happened. It made the track better, really. Then those last few laps it started tacking up again. I was kind of just paddling around after that and I lost the flow a little bit, Thad and I both, just because we were trying to get around lappers. Then the stuff got so thick it would just pull you left and right. It was hard to keep that momentum driving forward, but we had a good time. It’s a muddy mess, and tough on everybody and [their] equipment.”

Thad Duvall races at the 2019 Tomahawk GNCC Race.
Thad Duvall battled with Russell in the mud, but came up just short in his bid for a third win in 2019.Darrin Chapman

Duvall battled with Russell in the muddy mess, exchanging leads with the KTM rider several times before settling into the runner-up spot.

“Some days I’m not very happy with second, but I gave it my best today,” Duvall said. “I felt like I really laid it out on the line and just came up short. It was fun. We passed each other I don’t know how many times, but it was fun riding. When the rain came down, it was just hard to stay in a groove. The main thing was to keep your goggles on today. I had to stop a couple times for goggles. I gave it my best, [but] just came up a little short.”

Ben Kelley races at the 2019 Tomahawk GNCC Race.
Ben Kelley extended his perfect run in the XC2 250 Pro class, having won all rounds in the division and in New York, he was also third overall.Darrin Chapman

Ben Kelley had another exceptional day, winning the XC2 250 Pro class and finishing third physically on the track and overall. The Trail Jesters KTM rider has won every round of the XC2 250 Pro class so far this season.

“I got off to a good start in the XC2 250 Pro class and worked my way up to the front on the first lap,” Kelley said. “I feel like I just figured out how to ride the track good right away. I was just really smooth and flowing through the deep ruts and carrying good speed everywhere. I was working my way through the XC1 Pro guys. This time I just tried my best to get through them quick, not get stuck behind them, and not make any dumb mistakes where I’d pass them and then crash and have to work my way up again. I was able to get third overall and another win in XC2 250 Pro, so I’m pumped to be back on the overall podium.”

Steward Baylor races at the 2019 Tomahawk GNCC Race.
Steward Baylor overcame multiple problems to finish fourth, including a bent throttle tube.Darrin Chapman

Tely Energy Racing KTM's Steward Baylor Jr. got off on the wrong foot and suffered problems all day en route to fifth overall, including a botched start and a bent throttle tube that forced him into the pits for more than three minutes.

“That was a rough day,” Steward said. “Starting out, I gave everybody 10 seconds to the first turn because I was feeling good today and I wanted to pass everybody. Then I spent three minutes in the pits. That didn’t help. This place has never treated me well, so to come away with [fifth], I’m happy with it. It was a good day [and we earned] solid points.”

Tayla Jones races at the 2019 Tomahawk GNCC Race.
Tayla Jones got back on the winning track with a win in New York. The Husqvarna rider sits second in points to Becca Sheets.Darrin Chapman

Trevor Bollinger put his Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing machine into sixth overall. Meanwhile, AmPro Yamaha’s Ricky Russell was sixth. Phoenix Honda Racing's Andrew Delong was second in the XC2 250 Pro division and seventh overall. XC Gear/Enduro Engineering/Husqvarna’s Cory Buttrick was eighth overall, with Beta USA’s Mike Witkowski finishing third in the XC2 250 Pro class with a ninth-place overall finish. FMF KTM Factory Racing’s Josh Toth rounded out the top 10.

Nick Davis came back to the series after an extended absence and won the FMF XC3 125 Pro-Am class. Phoenix Honda Racing's Austin Lee was second with Beta USA’s Cody Barnes in third.

Ricky Russell races at the 2019 Tomahawk GNCC Race.
Ricky Russell put his AmPro Yamaha into sixth in his third race back with the series after sitting out an extended time due to injury.Darrin Chapman

2019 Tomahawk GNCC Overall Results

Position Rider Brand
1 Kailub Russell KTM
2 Thad Duvall Husqvarna
3 Ben Kelley KTM
4 Steward Baylor KTM
5 Trevor Bollinger Husqvarna
6 Ricky Russell Yamaha
7 Craig DeLong Husqvarna
8 Cory Buttrick Husqvarna
9 Mike Witkowski Beta
10 Josh Toth KTM

2019 GNCC Overall Point Standings

Position Rider Brand Points
1 Kailub Russell KTM 195
2 Thad Duvall Husqvarna 177
3 Steward Baylor KTM 141
4 Trevor Bollinger Husqvarna 127
5 Ben Kelley KTM 114
6 Josh Strang Kawasaki 92
  Josh Toth KTM 92
8 Andrew DeLong Honda 75
9 Mike Witkowski Beta 64
10 Jordan Ashburn Kawasaki 58