Grand National Cross Country Series (GNCC) owners have announced Steward Baylor will head to X-JAM Takai Fuji Park race on November 5 to race the Japan National Cross Country (JNCC) season finale.

GNCC and JNCC have a long-standing partnership – stretching 19 years in fact – and with a history of swapping a Pro class rider across the Pacific. Things slowed during the pandemic years but with restrictions dropped now it is no surprise to see the relations have picked back up and one of the biggest names in AMA off-road racing is making that trip.

The 2023 JNCC season finale is on November 5, at X-JAM Takai Fuji Park near the Yomase Onsen Ski Resort in Kitashiga, Japan.

“I’m happy to be going to Japan,” said Baylor. “Over the years I’ve seen other racers get the opportunity and it’s definitely one of the bucket list things that I would love to check off in my racing career. It is definitely one of the perks of the job, getting to go race and be a part of things like this.”

It is a tradition for JNCC President Masami Hoshino to invite GNCC riders to the season finale in exchange for Japanese riders competing in a GNCC race. Daiki Baba and Ryota Suzuki raced in the XC1 Open Pro class at the Big Buck GNCC in February where they finished 11th and 12th in the class.

Rich history of exchanges

Baylor follows GNCC racers such as Paul Whibley, Robbie Jenks (2006), Jason Raines, Charlie Mullins and Rodney Smith (2007), Nate Kanney and Thad Duvall (2008), Josh Strang and Kailub Russell (2009), Cory Buttrick (2010), Jesse Robinson and Jason Thomas (2011), Rory Mead, Josh Strang (2013), Jordan Ashburn (2014), Chris Bach (2015), Trevor Bollinger (2016), Ricky Russell (2017), Craig Delong (2018); and most recently, Andrew Delong (2019), in being selected to represent GNCC Racing in Japan.

Rocky Mountain/Tely Energy/KTM Racing’s Steward Baylor has had a remarkable 2023 GNCC season with two wins and is in contention for the 2023 Overall GNCC National Championship. Baylor currently sits second in the points standings with one round remaining on Sunday, October 22 at the Yamaha Racing Ironman GNCC.

Accompanying Baylor to Japan will be GNCC’s Race Operations Manager, Jared Bolton who will take part in the morning race. Typically the race programme sees a 30-minute race for kids and a 90-minute race for amateur riders in the morning ahead of the main three-hour race in the afternoon.

“I’m excited to make the trip to JNCC’s AAGP event,” said Bolton. “The JNCC staff and racers are great people and I’m very excited to try my luck in their morning race for the first time. The AAGP event has been a long standing tradition in Japan off-road racing for more than 30 years, and to just be in attendance is a great honor.”


Photo Credit: Ken Hill