The 2015 AMSOIL Grand National Cross Country Series presented by Maxxis, an AMA National Championship, kicked off its 41st annual season with the Moose Racing Wild Boar GNCC, in Palatka, Fla. Factory FMF/KTM’s Kailub Russell picked up right where he left off last season with a commanding victory in the XC1 Bike Pro Class, while N-Fab/AmPro Yamaha/Maxxis/Lonestar Racing’s Walker Fowler came away with the first victory of the 2015 season in the XC1 ATV Pro Class.
With two consecutive GNCC National Championships behind him, Russell entered the 2015 opener as the heavy favorite. Russell got off to a favorable start behind N-Fab AmPro Yamaha’s Jordan Ashburn, the $250 All Balls Racing Holeshot Award winner. Ashburn grabbed the early lead, but it didn’t take long for Russell to make his way to the front.
The major battles took place just behind the leader as Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Josh Strang went back-and-forth with fellow Husqvarna-mounted riders Ryan Sipes and Thad DuVall early on. As the trio charged toward the front, JCR Honda’s Chris Bach slowly inched his way into the battle. By the halfway point, Bach had made his way into a podium position, while Rocky Mountain ATV/MC KR4/FAR’s DuVall charged close behind.
Sipes experienced a big crash just after the halfway mark that ultimately hindered his chances at an overall podium finish. Strang capitalized on that, creating a gap between himself and the third-place finisher; however, Russell continued to put time on the 2010 GNCC National Champion. Meanwhile, DuVall caught up to Bach on the final lap as the duo finalized their charge toward a podium finish.
After three grueling hours on one of the most challenging and rough courses that GNCC has to offer, Factory FMF/KTM’s Kailub Russell made a big statement with a commanding lead over the rest of the field. Russell’s win marks his 23rd career overall victory and his first-ever overall win at a season opening round in Florida.
Strang came through over two and a half minutes behind Russell to secure second place overall, while Indiana’s Chris Bach put his JCR Honda atop the third podium position.
Canadian Motocross Lites Champion Tyler Medaglia made an appearance at the opening round, finishing an impressive fifth overall for the day. Medaglia joins an onslaught of Husqvarna machines inside the top ten running with big support from Husky Canada and Parts Canada. Sipes settled into the sixth-place position despite a big crash after the halfway point.
N-Fab AmPro Yamaha teammates Grant Baylor and Jordan Ashburn finished seventh and eighth places, respectively. HR Motorsports-backed Takeshi Koikeda finished ninth and Cory Graffunder rounded out the top ten.
In the XC1 ATV Pro Class, the first two hours of racing were followed by a heated battle for the top spot on the podium.
Off the start, six-time GNCC National Champion Chris Borich had issues getting off the line, giving him a fourth-place start and forcing him to make his way through the pack on the opening lap. Fowler also struggled to make it to the front early on, beginning the opening lap just behind Borich.
As the Yamaha-backed duo picked their way through the field, West Virginia native Adam McGill continued to maintain his lead out front. Bithell moved into the second-place position by the halfway point, but Borich and Fowler eventually caught and passed the Pennsylvania native to put themselves into podium contention.
McGill dominated a majority of the two-hour race, but it wasn’t until the final moments that things began to heat up. On the final lap, Fowler caught the rear wheel of McGill and the two battled through the final turns of the sandy Florida soil. With lapped traffic scattered throughout the course, McGill and Fowler were forced to take alternative lines. Fowler capitalized on the opportunity to make his way into the lead, while McGill got stuck behind lapped traffic. Fowler went on to capture the first win of the season, with McGill only two seconds behind for the runner-up position.
Borich, aboard his all-new Yamaha-backed program, finished third for the day. Maxxis/B. Neal Motorsports’ Brycen Neal put in an impressive ride to finish fourth ahead of Bithell, who rounded out the top five overall.
JMR/ATVRiders.com-backed Jarrod McClure came in sixth, followed by Shadron in seventh, Landon Wolfe in eighth, Kevin Yoho in ninth and Johnny Gallagher rounded out the top ten in XC1.
The 2015 AMSOIL Grand National Cross Country Series resumes March 14 and 15, with the Maxxis General GNCC in Washington, Ga. For more information on the series, visit www.gnccracing.com.