GNCC SEASON OPENER

Round one of the Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) Series presented by Specialized an AMA National Championship, wrapped up on Sunday, February 20, 2022, in Union, South Carolina with the VP Racing Fuels Big Buck. While the South Carolina temperatures were mild and sunny, the track conditions were nothing short of brutal for the racers competing at the season opener.

 

Ricky Russell (Coastal GASGAS Factory Racing) earned the $250 All Balls Racing Holeshot Award. Photo: Ken Hill

After moving into the lead position on lap one, FMF/KTM Factory Racing’s Benjamin Kelley would not look back. Kelley, the 2021 National Champion, came out and took the first win of the season in dominating fashion as he led from start to finish. This is Kelley’s first XC1 overall win at round one and at the Big Buck Farm facility.

Babbitts Online/Monster Energy/Kawasaki Team Green’s Josh Strang was pushing all day long as he started out back in eighth place. Strang would continue to keep his head down and would find himself in fifth on lap three. With three laps to go Strang was in third with his sights set on making the pass for second. As the white flag flew, he was just three seconds behind, and would make the pass stick with just miles to go before the checkered flag flew. As he came into the finish, Strang would cross just 1.9 seconds ahead of third.

Coming through to earn third overall was Magna1 Motorsports/Husqvarna’s Jordan Ashburn. After finishing third overall last year, Ashburn was ready to push once again to battle at the front of the pack. On Sunday afternoon, Ashburn was running third for majority of the day before battling with Strang on the last lap of the race. Ashburn would be unable to hold off Strang, and he would come through just behind him for the last podium position.

FMF/KTM Factory Racing’s Josh Toth had an overall good day of racing. Toth started off the day inside the top three, and he worked his way into second place for majority of the race. However, when the white flag flew indicating one more lap to go Strang and Ashburn would put on the charge and made the passes stick on Toth. He was able to salvage a fourth place finish, and he is ready to head into the Florida sand.

Earning fifth overall on the day was Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Trevor Bollinger. As the race got underway Bollinger would find himself back in 10th on the opening lap. Bollinger would continue to ride smart and made a push towards the front, moving into third on lap three. However, after a couple of mistakes Bollinger moved backwards but would make a late push to move into the top five as the three-hours dwindled down.

Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Craig DeLong would start the day inside the top ten and would consistently work his way through the riders. The XC1 rookie continued to shuffle around the top 10, eventually making a push and last lap pass to take over sixth overall for the day.

 

Josh Strang (Babbitts Online/Monster Energy/Kawasaki Team Green) battled back to finish second overall at the opening round. Photo: Ken Hill

Last year’s Big Buck winner, Rev Motorsports/GASGAS Racing’s Grant Baylor came through to finish seventh on the day after a bad start to the day had him fighting for the full three-hours. Baylor would find himself 14th on the opening lap, and 10th by the halfway point of the race. Baylor continued to race his own race and would make the crucial moves to finish seventh in XC1, and eighth overall.

Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Josep Garcia now has one round of GNCC Racing under his belt. After a good start, Garcia had a crash and would come through at the back of the pack. He continued to push hard and worked his way up to finish eighth in the XC1 Open Pro class, ninth overall on the day. Garcia will continue his GNCC journey for the next two rounds.

After missing round one last season, AmPro Yamaha’s Steward Baylor Jr. was ready to lineup and battle for the 2022 National Championship. Baylor’s day would start mid-pack as he came through sixth on lap one. As the race continued on Baylor was finding his rhythm and making up time on the riders in front of him. He was making a push for second on the last lap, when he took a different line which catapulted him over the motorcycle and onto the ground. Baylor would take a moment to remount his machine but would finish the race as he came through ninth in XC1, and 11th overall. After the race Baylor posted that he injured his wrist, and neck in the crash and will have to sit out for what is likely to be a couple weeks. The GNCC Series wishes Baylor a speedy recovery.

Liqui Moly Beta Racing’s Steve Holcombe rounded out the top 10 in the XC1 class, as he came from the United Kingdom to try out the GNCC Series for the first couple of rounds. Coastal GASGAS Factory Racing’s Ricky Russell would start his day by grabbing the $250 All Balls Racing XC1 Holeshot Award but would suffer a couple of crashes resulting in an 19th overall finishing position, 11th in XC1. Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Thad Duvall suffered a crash early in the race, resulting in multiple injuries to his hip and pelvis. The GNCC Series wishes Duvall a speedy recovery.

 

Mike Witkowski (AmPro Yamaha) earned the XC2 250 Pro class win. Photo: Ken Hill

As the XC2 250 Pro class took off it was Babbitts Online/Monster Energy/Kawasaki Team Green’s Lyndon Snodgrass jumping off the line first to earn the $250 STACYC Holeshot Award. However, on lap one as the group made their way towards the finish line it was AmPro Yamaha’s Michael Witkowski checking in first. Witkowski would continue to lead the race, charging hard for the duration of the three-hours. As the checkered flag flew it was Witkowski coming through to earn the round one win, and after a rough 2021 season he is looking ahead to a better year in 2022.

Snodgrass would make his way up to second place, and he would remain there for the length of the race. Snodgrass tried to make a last lap push, but he would fall short of earning that first win in 2022. Snodgrass is eager for the season and is ready to battle for the class championship.

Costal GASGAS Factory Racing’s Ryder Lafferty came back from a mid-pack start to battle for the last podium position. Lafferty would come through 11th on the opening lap, but he would put his head down and make the necessary passes to steadily move through the pack over the course of the race. Lafferty continued to push as he made his way through the finish line just under a minute behind second place. Unfortunately for Lafferty’s teammate and XC2 defending champion, Johnathan Girroir, his day ended early after running second on the opening lap. Girroir suffered an injury, but more news has not been released as of publication time. The GNCC Series wishes Girroir a speedy recovery.

Taking home the Top Amateur honors in the afternoon race was Tely Energy/KTM’s Bubz Tasha of the 250 A class with his 24th overall finishing position. Tasha would also capture the 250 A class win. Babbitts Online/Monster Energy/Kawasaki Team Green’s Chase Colville and Grant Davis would round out the Top Amateur podium with 26th and 29th overall finishing positions. Colville and Davis would also complete the 250 A class podium as they earned second and third in the class.

 

Rachael Archer (center), Tayla Jones (left) and Korie Steede (right) rounded out the WXC top three. Photo: Ken Hill

In the WXC class it was the AmPro Yamaha of Rachael Archer having a dominate performance as she made her way into the lead position on lap one and would continue to push until the checkered flag waved. Archer would earn the season opener with over a minute lead on the rest of the WXC pack.

Coming through to earn second in the WXC class was Rockstar Energy Husqvarna/Surge Off-Road Coaching’s Tayla Jones. As she made her way into second on the opening lap of the race, Jones would continue to try and catch Archer at the front of the pack. Ultimately time would run out, and Jones would cross the line second with Trail Jesters KTM-backed rider Korie Steede battling back in the third and final podium position for the duration of the race. Jocelyn Barnes would start the day off by earning the $100 Trail Jesters WXC Hoelshot Award.

 

Nick Defeo clinched the Youth Overall win at Big Buck. Photo: Ken Hill

In the youth bike race, it was Nicholas Defeo coming through to earn the overall win in his home state of South Carolina. Defeo would also earn the YXC1 Super Mini Sr. class win to start off the season. Jiggs Fustini of the YXC2 Super Mini Jr. class battled through to take second overall and his class win, with Ryan Amancio right behind him for third overall in the youth race and second in the YXC2 class. Peyton Feather held on to earn second in the YXC1 class with Jonathan Snyder rounding out the top three.

Mason Raynor brought home the 85cc (12-13) class win and Brayden Baisley earned the 85 Big Wheel (12-15) class win, then in the 85cc (7-11) class it was Colton McQuarrie earning the win. Hunter Hawkinberry started the year off with a win in the 65cc (10-11) class, and Hunter Jones took the 65cc (7-8) class win while Carter Gray earned the 65cc (9) class victory. In the Girls Sr. (12-15) it was Addison Harris taking the win, and in the Girls Jr. (8-11) it was Natalie Anderson earning the win. Trey Tanner would earn a win in the Trail Rider (7-15) class.

GNCC Racing continues on Saturday, March 5 and Sunday, March 6 with round two, the Moose Racing Wild Boar in Palatka, Florida.

For more information on the GNCC series, visit the official website at www.gnccracing.com or call (304) 284-0084. Join the conversation on the series Facebook page, follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and be sure to always hashtag #GNCC.

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Ben Kelley (center), Josh Strang (left) and Jordan Ashburn (right) rounded out the top three overall Big Buck finishers. Photo: Ken Hill

Big Buck Results and Points Standings
Union, South Carolina
Round 1 of 13
Sunday, February 20, 2022

XC1 Pro Event Results:

Benjamin Kelley (KTM)
Josh Strang (KAW)
Jordan Ashburn (HQV)
Josh Toth (KTM)
Trevor Bollinger (HQV)
Craig DeLong (HQV)
Grant Balor (GAS)
Josep Garcia (KTM)
Steward Baylor Jr. (KTM)
Steve Holcombe (BET)
*Overall National Championship Standings:

Benjamin Kelley (30)
Josh Strang (25)
Jordan Ashburn (21)
Josh Toth (18)
Trevor Bollinger (16)
Craig DeLong (15)
Michael Witkowski (14)
Grant Baylor (13)
Josep Garcia (12)
Lyndon Snodgrass (11)
*Indicates that the Overall National Championship Standings will determine the 2022 National Champion.

XC2 250 Pro Event Results:

Michael Witkowski (YAM)
Lyndon Snodgrass (KAW)
Ryder Lafferty (GAS)
Ruy Barbosa (HON)
Jack Edmondson (HQV)
Jonathan Johnson (HQV)
Evan Smith (BET)
Angus Riordan (KTM)
Thorn Devlin (HQV)
Benjamin Herrera (KAW)
XC2 250 Pro Series Standings:

Michael Witkowski (30)
Lyndon Snodgrass (25)
Ryder Lafferty (21)
Ruy Barbosa (18)
Jack Edmondson (16)
Jonathan Johnson (15)
Evan Smith (14)
Angus Riordan (13)
Thorn Devlin (12)
Benjamin Herrera (11)

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