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Kailub Russell claims seventh GNCC Champion! | News

KTM Factory Racing’s Kailub Russell clinched his seventh-career AMA Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) Series Championship despite an unfortunate DNF result at the penultimate round.

Russell’s 2020 FMF KTM Factory Racing teammate, Ben Kelley, made history for himself and his current Trail Jesters KTM-Supported Racing Team on Sunday as he became a first-time overall winner in only his second time competing in the premier XC1 Open Pro class. Kelley’s impressive performance led an all-KTM podium sweep with Tely Energy Racing/KTM’s Grant Baylor finishing a season-best second, and FMF KTM Factory Racing’s Josh Toth rounding out the overall podium in third.

Additionally, Trail Jesters KTM Racing Team’s Jesse Ansley wrapped up the FMF XC3 125 Pro-Am Championship on Sunday with a substantial five-minute victory at the penultimate round, giving KTM a stellar weekend from the inaugural Mountaineer GNCC event.

Russell’s seventh championship bid didn’t end the way he would have expected as a practice crash earlier in the week caused the multi-time champion to come into the weekend a little under the weather with an injured shoulder. With a positive READY TO RACE attitude, Russell lined up for the start and put himself into a second-place position during the first hour of the race. He dropped back to third for the next hour of racing but the rough and tumble course conditions made it difficult for him to hold on and with three laps remaining, Russell made the tough decision to call it a day. With a 37-point lead going into the final round, Russell was able to clinch the title and add yet another stripe to his decorated championship belt.

Kailub Russell: “It’s a sad way to end the year but that’s racing. I had a pretty good crash this week while practicing and I re-aggravated my shoulder again. I gave it my best the first half of the race but the rocky course became too challenging for my weakening shoulder, so I decided there was nothing more for me to gain since I won the championship by default with Thad not being able to line up. Seven consecutive championships is a pretty amazing feat and I can’t thank everyone who supports me enough. Every race-win counts during the season and I’m thankful we were able to get enough of them to lock down the championship one round early.”