Dramatic Steele Creek victory for Thad Duvall at GNCC round 3

Steele Creek winning result for Thad Duvall ahead of Kailub Russell makes it three different winners from three rounds of GNCC in 2019 – Ben Kelley takes third straight XC2 250 Pro win of the season.


Round three of the 2019 AMSOIL Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) Series saw dramatic last lap victory for Thad Duvall who took the 20th Annual FMF Steele Creek GNCC victory.

As the green flag waved, it was FMF/KTM Factory Racing’s Kailub Russell grabbed the holeshot and lead the group of XC1 Open Pro riders into the woods of North Carolina. Russell initially held the lead over Duvall and his Rockstar Energy/Factory Husqvarna Racing team-mate Trevor Bollinger. The trio battled all day, with Duvall going from first to third multiple times as the race wore one.


GNCC Steele Creek Russell 560


Last lap dash by Duvall steals the win

Duvall made a last lap push to the front of the pack after witnessing Russell stuck in a rut behind lapped riders. With only miles to go Duvall and Russell engaged in a heated battle, but as the chequered flag flew it was Duvall coming through first, just two seconds ahead of Russell.

Trevor Bollinger found himself off to a good start close on the front two and even passing Duvall for second in the early stages. But Bollinger faltered on an uphill twice, which cost him momentum heading into the last half of the race. Bollinger finished third overall, his second best finish of the season so far.

Tely Energy Racing KTM’s Steward Baylor Jr. found himself in the number four spot after battling throughout the day with fellow XC1 Open Pro competitors. With a win at the opening round and a pair of fourth overall finishes, Baylor Jr. sits third in the points standings as the series heads to his home state of South Carolina in two weeks. 

XC1 Open Pro rookie Josh Toth earned fifth overall, his best finish of the season. Toth would run in fourth around the halfway point, but after suffering from a couple different issues, he would settle for a top five finish.


GNCC Steele Creek Duvall 560


XC2 win number three for Kelley

Trail Jesters KTM’s Ben Kelley grabbed the XC2 holeshot award and never looked back. Kelley held the lead form lap one, gapping the field by four minutes to take his third consecutive XC2 250 Pro class win of the season. 

After starting mid-pack, Johnathan Girroir worked his way up to finishing second in XC2, his third-straight podium finish of the season. Girroir would also find himself inside the top 10 overall with a ninth place. 

Beta USA Factory Racing’s Mike Witkowski was running second for the first three laps of the race, before battling with Girroir. Witkowski would hold onto his second podium finish of the season with a third in the XC2 250 Pro class.


GNCC Steele Creek XC2 Pro start 560


XC3 125 Pro-Am Class

As the FMF XC3 125 Pro-Am class left the starting line it was Jason Thomas leading but Cody Barnes was right behind him. Barnes would make the pass for the lead one on the fifth lap, then put his head down and ride to his second consecutive FMF XC3 class win of the season. 

Trail Jesters KTM’s Jesse Ansley was running in the final podium position for the majority of the day, however, as the white flag came out he would make the pass on Thomas for second. Thomas held onto third, taking the last podium position of the day in the FMF XC3 class. 


GNCC Steele Creek XC Podium 560


250 A rider, Ryder Leblond, came through 23rd overall earning the FMF Steele Creek Top Amateur award and his class win. Evan Earl came through 24th overall, earning the Open A win as well, followed by Nicholas Kordana in 27th overall and second in the 250 A class.


Ryler Lebond GNCC Steele Creek 560


Tayla Jones was the overall winner of the 10 a.m. race in North Carolina ahead of Becca Sheets coming through in second after running there for the duration of the race. Mackenzie Tricker rounded out the WXC podium for round three.


XC1 Pro Event Results, GNCC Round three 2019:

  1. Thad Duvall (HQV)
  2. Kailub Russell (KTM)
  3. Trevor Bollinger (HQV)
  4. Steward Baylor Jr. (KTM)
  5. Josh Toth (KTM)
  6. Jordan Ashburn (KAW)
  7. Josh Strang (KAW)
  8. Cory Buttrick (YAM)
  9. Andrew Delong (HON)
  10. Layne Michael (HQV)


Overall National Championship Standings:

  1. Kailub Russell (80)
  2. Thad Duvall (72)
  3. Steward Baylor Jr. (66)
  4. Trevor Bollinger (62)
  5. Ben Kelley (47)
  6. Josh Toth (46)
  7. Josh Strang (43)
  8. Jordan Ashburm (36)
  9. Jonathan Girroir (35)
  10. Michael Witkowski (32)


XC2 250 Pro Event Results:

  1. Benjamin Kelley (KTM)
  2. Jonathan Girroir (KTM)
  3. Michael Witkowski (BET)
  4. Evan Smith (HQV)
  5. Liam Draper (KTM)
  6. Austin Lee (HON)
  7. Ryder Lafferty (KTM)
  8. Alex Teagarden (HQV)
  9. Samuel Evans (KTM)
  10. Jonathan Johnson (KAW)


XC2 250 Pro Series Standings:

  1. Benjamin Kelley (90)
  2. Jonathan Girroir (71)
  3. Evan Smith (61)
  4. Michael Witkowski (60)
  5. Ryder Lafferty (38)
  6. Liam Draper (37)
  7. Jonathan Johnson (35)
  8. Alex Teagarden (34)
  9. Zack Hayes (33)
  10. Tegan Temple (32)


The Pro race was broadcast live in its entirety and can be viewed as archived video online at RacerTV.com.

The 2019 GNCC Series returns in two weeks, April 13-14, with the CST Tires Camp Coker Bullet in Society Hill, South Carolina.


More information: GNCCRacing.com

Photo Credit: Ken Hill
Words Credit: Kayla Bolton/GNCC
Byline jp ISDE 2018 Enduro21
Jon Pearson
Enduro21 Editor and Bike Tester