Kailub Russell captures his third consecutive win of 2015 at the FMF Steele Creek GNCC

The 16th running of the FMF Steele Creek GNCC took place on Sunday at the beautiful Steele Creek Campground, where Kailub Russell saw his third straight victory of the 2015 AMSOIL Grand National Cross Country Series presented by Maxxis.

Russell extended his points lead in the XC1 Pro class to earn his 25th career win in front of a hometown crowd in Morganton, North Carolina.

Yamaha’s Jordan Ashburn put himself into the early lead after grabbing the holeshot but Russell quickly made his way to the front on the opening lap. The two-time GNCC National Champion created a gap on the rest of the field early on, leaving an exciting battle to shape up for the second place position.

Husqvarna’s Ryan Sipes jumped into second on the opening lap, with Ashburn and Daniel Milner right in the mix. Husqvarna’s Thad DuVall also put himself into a favourable position off the start, where he joined the front-runners early on to engage in a battle for the podium position.

Husqvarna’s Josh Strang got tangled up with another rider just after the start – knocking the Australian to the back of the pack early on. From there, the top ten running order continuously changed as riders battled to the finish.

Honda’s Chris Bach chased down Ashburn but it was DuVall who surpassed both riders to inherit the second as the three-hour race neared its halfway mark. Strang joined DuVall in what turned out to be an exciting battle between the two Husqvarna backed riders all afternoon.

Russell kicked into a higher gear in the final moments of the seven-lap race to finish over two and a half minutes ahead of Strang, who came in second.

DuVall finished just twenty seconds behind Strang to round out the top three. Russell keeps his winning streak alive with a three-for-three score and has now a 15-point lead over Strang in the championship standings. DuVall sits another 15 points back in third.

XC1 Pro rookie Grant Baylor made a jump in the championship standings on Sunday with an impressive come-from-behind performance to land fourth overall for the day. Baylor began the day just outside the top ten as he pushed his way through the pack all afternoon.

Ashburn was able to maintain his top five running from the afternoon, securing fifth overall for the day, where he now sits tied with Grant Baylor for fourth in the championship standings.

In his first race back from injury this season, KTM’s Steward Baylor put in an impressive ride to finish sixth overall after being forced to make his way through the pack.

Milner secured his best GNCC performance of the season with seventh overall, while KTM’s Russell Bobbitt took eighth.

After experiencing a few crashes along the way, Sipes finished the day with ninth place in XC1 and 14th overall, while Husqvarna mounted Tyler Medaglia rounded out the top ten in XC1 with 25th overall.

The XC2 Pro Lites battle heated up at the third round as KTM’s Jason Thomas emerged victorious after three hours of racing. Thomas began the day with the holeshot and the early lead in the class.

Thomas had early competition from the usual suspects like Husqvarna’s Nick Davis and KTM’s Trevor Bollinger, but as the race wore on the top three began to spread out.

Thomas and Davis came together about halfway through the race, causing both riders to go down just after the finish line. With Bollinger in the lead, Honda’s Layne Michael made his way past the downed riders for second, as the leading duo got back up and began charging once again.

However, Davis ran into a mechanical issue that would ultimately remove him from the race. Thomas went on to capture his second straight XC2 victory of the season, with Michael holding on for second and Bollinger capturing a third place finish in front of his hometown crowd.

XC1 Event Results:

Kailub Russell (KTM)

Josh Strang (HSQ)

Thad DuVall (HSQ)

Grant Baylor (YAM)

Jordan Ashburn (YAM)

Steward Baylor (KTM)

Daniel Milner (YAM)

Russell Bobbitt (KTM)

Ryan Sipes (HSQ)

Tyler Medaglia (HSQ)

*Overall National Championship Standings:

Kailub Russell (90)

Josh Strang (75)

Thad DuVall (60)

Grant Baylor (44)

Jordan Ashburn (44)

Jason Thomas (38)

Chris Bach (37)

Nick Davis (28)

Tyler Medaglia (26)

Craig DeLong (25)

*Indicates that the Overall National Championship Standings will determine the 2015 National Champion.

XC2 Event Results:

Jason Thomas (KTM)

Layne Michael (HON)

Trevor Bollinger (KTM)

Craig Delong (HSQ)

Scott Grills (YAM)

Austin Lee (YAM)

Cory Buttrick (BET)

Trevor Barrett  (HSQ)

Callan May (YAM)

Brad Bakken (YAM)

XC2 Series Standings:

Jason Thomas (71)*

Layne Michael (56)

Nick Davis (55)

Craig Delong (52)

Trevor Bollinger (44)

Cory Buttrick (43)

Brad Bakken (34)

Callan May (27)

Scott Grills (26)

Phillipe Chaine (25)

* Reflects a penalty administered for a rule infraction at round three.