Mullins Takes the Victory at the FMF Steele Creek GNCC
Plessinger Secures First Career Win in the XC2 Class

MORGANTON, N.C. (April 8, 2013) – The entire pre-race buzz surrounded dual points leaders Kailub Russell and Charlie Mullins heading into Round 3 of the 2013 AMSOIL Grand National Cross Country Series. But only one of the two Factory KTM riders remains atop the point standings after Sunday’s epic battle at the FMF Steele Creek GNCC, where Mullins bested Russell in a grueling three-hour battle at the Steele Creek Campground in Morganton, N.C. Chris Bach rode his way to his first podium finish of the 2013 season, while rookie Aaron Plessinger edged out defending champ Jason Thomas in the final moments of the XC2 Pro Lites race.

The afternoon began with what looked like a stellar one for AmPro Yamaha’s Paul Whibley, as he grabbed his third consecutive $250 All Balls Racing XC1 Holeshot Award. However, Whibley began drastically dropping positions on the opening lap. Whibley’s team later confirmed that he was recovering from a wrist injury and illness from the prior week.

Russell grabbed a second place finish, giving him second overall in the points Photo: Ken Hill / GNCC

Shenandoah Honda/’s Thad DuVall began the day in the running for a podium position before taking a hard fall on Lap 2. Rocky Mountain ATV/MC’s Josh Strang stopped to check on DuVall and then moved his way into the third place position. AmPro Yamaha’s Jordan Ashburn slid in behind Strang and the two maintained their respective positions for the first half of the race. Strang ran into some issues mid-race when he got tangled with a lapped rider and crashed, causing him to lose several positions.

Sam Evans grabbed the $100 XC2 Holeshot Award Photo: Ken Hill / GNCC

Carolina KTM/’s Chris Bach maintained a solid top five position amidst the early race madness, eventually putting himself into podium contention as the race wore on. Ashburn put in one of his best rides of the season, battling back and forth with Bach for the third place spot. Bach did everything he could to maintain his position, grabbing his first podium finish of the season in his home state of North Carolina.

‘Living here in North Carolina for the past couple of years, I’ve really gotten used to riding in this terrain, Bach said. I just felt comfortable out there today and I can’t even explain how good it feels to be back on the podium!’

Bach secured a season best third place Photo: Ken Hill / GNCC

Mullins began gapping his teammate mid-way through the seven-lap race after Russell made a couple of mistakes and wasn’t able to make up the time. Russell later commented, ‘I’ve been pretty sick this week and that made it pretty hard to keep my energy level up enough to push it for three-hours out there but I’m happy to take home a second place today.’

Mullins now holds a five-point lead over Russell heading into Round 4 in South Carolina.

‘This is my first time ever winning Steele Creek,’ Mullins said. ‘I’ve had a few close calls but I finally sealed the deal today and it feels good to get the win.’

Charlie Mullins takes his second win of 2013 at the FMF Steele Creek GNCC Photo: Ken Hill / GNCC

The battle for the lead in the XC2 Pro Lites proved to be some of the most exciting racing action of the day, beginning with Samuel Evans grabbing the $100 XC2 Holeshot Award in front of thirty-two other XC2 racers. Although DirtWise Schools/ rider Jason Thomas led a majority of the laps, it was an all-out brawl between the top four riders all afternoon. KTM Support Rider Grant Baylor grabbed the early lead over Thomas and the rest of the field but F.A.R Husqvarna’s Andrew DeLong and Rock River Yamaha’s Aaron Plessinger jumped right into the mix by Lap 2.

XC1 Podium: (left) Kailub Russell, (center) Charlie Mullins, (right) Chris Bach Photo: Ken Hill / GNCC

Baylor, DeLong and Plessinger flip flopped positions several times throughout the three-hour race but Plessinger put the charge on when it mattered the most, as he caught Thomas and applied pressure for the lead on the final lap. Thomas led the young Plessinger wheel-to-wheel into the final turns before the finish line and that’s where Plessinger made his move to take over the lead. Despite several attempts by Thomas to regain the lead, Plessinger went on to secure his first career win in the XC2 Pro Lites class. Grant Baylor grabbed the final podium position and DeLong took fourth after experiencing a crash late in the race that set him back from the lead pack. Plessinger and Thomas finished an impressive fourth and fifth overall, beating out many of the top XC1 riders on the adjusted time clock.                                

XC2 Podium: (left) Jason Thomas, (center) Aaron Plessinger, (right) Grant Baylor Photo: Ken Hill / GNCC

FMF/RPM/KTM Team Maxxis’ Rory Mead finished fifth in the XC1 class, just ahead of the sixth place rider AirGroup Radiant Racing/ Nick Fahringer. Yamaha’s Ricky Russell, Litz Racing/Ride Center USA’s Takeshi Koikeda and XC1 rookie Adam Bonneur had a three-way battle going all afternoon. It was Ricky Russell who came away with the seventh place finish, while Koikeda grabbed eighth and Bonneur and Blythe rounded out the top ten.

Whibley salvaged an eleventh place finish for the day, while Strang took home twelfth after tweaking his knee during a crash. Tough luck for DuVall as he wasn’t able to finish out the day after his crash on Lap 2. Whibley, Strang and DuVall will leave Round 3 without scoring any points towards the XC1 championship chase.

Trevor Bollinger took home the Top Amateur honors in North Carolina Photo: Ken HIll / GNCC

North Carolina’s very own Trevor Bollinger finished nineteenth overall to take the afternoon’s Top Amateur Honors, while also securing the 4-Stroke A Lites class win.

The 2013 AMSOIL Grand National Cross Country Series continues April 20 and 21 with the VP Racing Fuels Big Buck GNCC. For more information on the series, visit

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About GNCC Racing

The AMSOIL Grand National Cross Country series is America’s premier off-road racing series. Founded in 1975, the 13-round championship is produced exclusively by Racer Productions. Cross-country racing is one of the most physically demanding sports in the world. The grueling three-hour GNCC races lead as many as 1,500 riders through tracks ranging in length from eight to 12 miles. With varied terrain, including hills, woods, mud, dirt, rocks and motocross sections, GNCC events are tests of both survival and speed. The series draws talent from all over the U.S., Europe, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. GNCC Racing is televised weekly on NBC Sports and For more information, please

XC1 Pro Results:

  1. Charlie Mullins (KTM)
  2. Kailub Russell (KTM)
  3. Chris Bach (YAM)
  4. Jordan Ashburn (YAM)
  5. Rory Mead (KTM)
  6. Nick Fahringer (HSB)
  7. Ricky Russell (YAM)
  8. Takeshi Koikeda (KTM)
  9. Adam Bonneur (KAW)
  10. Ian Blythe (KTM)

XC2 Pro Lites Results:

  1. Aaron Plessinger (YAM)
  2. Jason Thomas (KTM)
  3. Grant Baylor (KTM)
  4. Andrew DeLong (HSQ)
  5. Jed Haines (YAM)
  6. Shane Hufford Jr (KTM)
  7. Cody Gragg (YAM)
  8. AJ Stewart (YAM)
  9. Travis Coy (KTM)
  10. Zach Nolan (KTM)

XC1 Pro Standings:

  1. Charlie Mullins (85)
  2. Kailub Russell (80)
  3. Chris Bach (52)
  4. Josh Strang (48)
  5. Paul Whibley (43)
  6. Thad DuVall (42)
  7. Jordan Ashburn (39)
  8. Ricky Russell (39)
  9. Takeshi Koikeda (37)
  10. Adam Bonneur (33)

XC2 Pro Lites Standings:

  1. Andrew DeLong (78)
  2. Jason Thomas (66)
  3. Grant Baylor (62)
  4. Shane Hufford Jr (46)
  5. Zach Osborne (42)
  6. AJ Stewart (38)
  7. Mark Heresco Jr (31)
  8. Aaron Plessinger (30)
  9. Travis Coy (27)
  10. Jesse Groemm (24) 

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