Thad Duvall Claims First Win Of 2018 At Steele Creek GNCC

Duvall’s fortunes turn at the Steele Creek GNCC

Rockstar Energy Husqvarna's Thad Duvall took advantage of Kailub Russell's encounter with a lapper on the final lap of this weekend's FMF Steele Creek GNCC in Morganton, North Carolina, to claim his first win of 2018.

Russell grabbed the lead at the start of the afternoon race, holding down the top spot until the two-hour mark where Duvall challenged the FMF KTM rider for the top spot. After swapping the lead several times, Russell regained control of the race on the final lap and appeared to have a fourth-straight win in his sights. However, Russell was held up by a lapper within a mile of the finish line, giving Duvall just enough room to take the lead and the win.

With the victory, Duvall whittled Russell’s lead in the championship standings down to 14, reviving his chances of claiming his first GNCC title.

Thad Duvall (989) and Kailub Russell (1) made small talk before the start of the afternoon race. More than 300 riders lined up to participate in the afternoon classes in North Carolina, which meant the leaders dealt with plenty of lappers during the second half of the three-hour race.Darrin Chapman
Trail Jesters KTM’s Kaven Benoit (926) grabbed the holeshot but Russell (1) took control of the afternoon race shortly after the start. Meanwhile, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna teammates Josh Strang (114) and Duvall (989) jockeyed for position.Darrin Chapman
Russell sprinted to a 20-second lead by the end of the first lap. But the FMF KTM Factory racer got the short end of the stick when it came to lappers near the end of the race.Darrin Chapman
As expected, Duvall was excited about his win. “I have been working so hard to train more and get where I want to be with my racing. This race was rough but I kept charging; I wanted the win so bad. I was in the right place when I made the pass for the lead, and couldn’t be happier with this finish!” he said after the race.Darrin Chapman
Trevor Bollinger claimed his first podium finish in the XC1 class at Steele Creek. The JCR Honda rider got off to a decent start and made his way into third pretty quickly. “Kailub and Thad were already gone by the time I got into third,” Bollinger said. “I tried to reel those guys in for a lap or two and then I realized it was going to be hard to do, so I just rode my own race from there on out.”Darrin Chapman
Trail Jesters KTM’s Ben Kelley claimed his fourth XC2 class win in a row at Steele Creek with an impressive fourth overall finish. In a very short period of time, Kelley has established himself as a solid top-five rider and definitely one to keep an eye on. The factories will no doubt come courting during the off-season.Darrin Chapman
Tely Racing KTM’s Steward Baylor told Dirt Rider he struggled with suspension settings in North Carolina. Baylor has done quite well for himself the past two years despite not being able to afford the $30,000 suspension components the factory riders have at their disposal.Darrin Chapman
Despite nursing a sore hand, FMF KTM’s Josh Toth finished sixth overall and second in the XC2 division.Darrin Chapman
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Josh Strang rode a steady pace to finish seventh.Darrin Chapman
Duvall takes the checkered flag. The win marked the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna rider’s first win of 2018.Darrin Chapman
Toth (left), Kelley (center), and Pascal Rauchenecker graced the XC2 podium.Darrin Chapman