SNOWSHOE, W. Va. – It was a picture perfect day for racing in eastern West Virginia as Round 9 of the AMSOIL Grand National Cross Country Series took place at Snowshoe Mountain Resort on Sunday. In a grueling three-hour battle to the finish, Kailub Russell came from behind to secure his third consecutive win of the season at the AMSOIL Snowshoe GNCC, closing the points gap on his teammate Charlie Mullins in the National Championship chase. In the XC2 Class, Grant Baylor claimed his third win of the season where he maintains the points lead heading into summer break.
Russell started on the front row alongside Charlie Mullins, Chris Bach, Paul Whibley and Josh Strang, but a crash on the opening lap set the Factory FMF/KTM rider a ways back from the lead pack. Mullins put himself out front right away, where he led the first two laps of the race.
Shenandoah Honda/USWE-Sports.com’s Thad DuVall started on the second row, only 10 seconds behind the first five riders. By the end of Lap 1, DuVall had made his way into the second place position where he engaged in a battle with AmPro Yamaha’s Jordan Ashburn. DuVall eventually commanded the second place position where he set his sights on Mullins for the lead. DuVall caught and passed Mullins for the lead about halfway through the eight-lap race and the duo went back and forth for the lead position.
Meanwhile, Russell was making a charge from behind despite running into a few roadblocks along the way. Russell eventually caught the leaders just as DuVall began to experience mechanical issues on the course.
“I came through a section and hit a rock pretty hard and it broke my shifter clean off. I ended up being stuck in third gear for almost a lap but my pit crew installed a new one and I lost a few positions in the meantime.” DuVall said.
Ashburn sat in a comfortable third place position for a majority of the race until a mechanical issue plagued his AmPro Yamaha machine. Ashburn pulled into his pit but the punctured radiator hose wasn’t repairable in time to salvage any championship points.
Ashburn’s misfortune allowed Carolina KTM/RidePG.com’s Chris Bach to make his way into the third place spot. Bach set his sights on Russell and Mullins but the KTM duo had created a large gap on the rest of the field. From there, Bach rode a solid and consistent race to finish third place physically, but in the end it was DuVall who prevailed with third place overall on adjusted time.
Mullins made a valiant charge on Russell during the final lap, ultimately finishing 10 seconds back for second place. Russell’s victory marked three-in-a-row for the Ohio native, closing the points gap on Mullins to only three points heading into the summer break.
AmPro Yamaha’s Paul Whibley rounded out the top five in the XC1 class, while 2012 Snowshoe winner Rory Mead captured sixth aboard his FMF/RPM/KTM Team Maxxis ride. RidePG.com/ Maxxis/FLY Racing’s Adam Bonneur finished seventh; Litz Racing Honda’s Takeshi Koikeda took eighth, while Mark Fortner and Ricky Russell rounded out the top 10.
KTM Support rider Grant Baylor and DirtWise Schools/KTM-Parts.com/Maxxis rider Jason Thomas went head-to-head for the XC2 Pro Lites Class win. Baylor prevailed with the XC2 Class win, also capturing an impressive fifth place overall. Thomas’ second place finish in the class was good enough to earn the defending champion sixth place overall for the day. Pennsylvania’s Shane Hufford Jr. earned his first career podium finish in the XC2 class with third place.
North Carolina’s Trevor Bollinger grabbed another victory in the 4 Stroke A Lites Class, also securing the Top Amateur Award with 14th overall for the day. The next finishing amateur rider was 250 A winner Zach Love with 19th overall.
The 2013 AMSOIL Grand National Cross Country Series continues June 29 and 30 with the AMSOIL Snowshoe GNCC. For more information on the series, visit www.gnccracing.com.