Factory FMF/KTM teammates Charlie Mullins and Kaliub Russell entered Round 3 of the 2013 GNCC series at Steele Creek tied for the overall lead, but it was Mullins who leaves Morganton, North Carolina with the advantage. Mullins notched his second win of the season over two minutes ahead of Russell, while KTM/RidePG.com’s Chris Bach earned his first trip to the podium this year in third.
The XC1 race started with AmPro Yamaha’s Paul Whibley rocketing to the front just long enough to earn the All Balls Racing XC1 Holeshot Award, but he quickly slipped in position as the first lap progressed. Russell and Mullins battled up to the front, with Russell holding the lead through the first two laps. Mullins didn’t give his teammate any breathing room though, and by Lap 3 had slipped past Russell.
Russell countered on the following lap and the two proceeded to change positions a number of times until Lap 4 when both riders took a pit stop. After the pit Russell began to slow his pace, affected by a lingering cold which became more troublesome as competition continued. He had enough of a gap on the field to hold steady in second to the checkers. Mullins remained strong to the finish and was relatively unchallenged through the final three laps. The win marks Mullins’ first at Steele Creek.
“It feels great to get a win here today,” stated Mullins. “I always like this course and today it was exceptionally good. The rain prior to the race made the track conditions perfect and I felt really good all day. I am glad to head to the next round with the points lead.”
Kaliub Russell slipped back late in the race and claimed the runner-up spot after battling hard with Charlie Mullins through the opening laps.
Whibley’s teammate, Jordan Ashburn, ended the day in fourth-place after a spirited battle with Bach throughout the latter half of competition. KTM rider, Rory Mead grabbed fifth and was followed by Husaberg’s Nick Fahringer in sixth.
In XC2 competition, Yamaha’s Aaron Plessinger, KTM’s Jason Thomas and Grant Baylor and Husqvarna’s Andrew DeLong went all-out in the fight for podium position, with positions changing hands every lap between the four riders. Plessinger eventually prevailed, grabbing the front on the final lap. Thomas had the advantage for most of the race though, and slipped behind by a fraction of a second at the finish. The win is Plessinger’s first in the XC2 class. Thomas finished in second with Baylor claiming third and DeLong holding to fourth.
In the Women’s division, KTM’s Maria Forsberg took the win over Kacy Martinez in second and Yamaha’s Jessica Patterson in third.
Mullins now holds a five point advantage over Russell in XC1. Though DeLong missed the podium at Steele Creek, his wins in the first two rounds help to keep him the overall leader in XC2. Forseberg has no wiggle room in the Women’s division, holding a single point lead over Martinez and only two over third-placed rider, Patterson.
Steele Creek XC1 podium:Charlie Mullins (center) in first, Kaliub Russell (left) in second and Chris Bach (right) in third.
XC1 Steele Creek GNCC Results 2013:
1. Charlie Mullins (KTM)
2. Kaliub Russell (KTM)
3. Chris Bach (KTM)
4. Jordan Ashburn (Yamaha)
5. Rory Mead (KTM)
XC2 Steele Creek GNCC Results 2013:
1. Aaron Plessinger (Yamaha)
2. Jason Thomas (KTM)
3. Grant Baylor (KTM)
4. Andrew DeLong (Husqvarna)
5. Jedediah Haines (Yamaha)
Women’s Steele Creek GNCC Results 2013:
1. Maria Forsberg (KTM)
2. Kacy Martinez (KTM)
3. Jessica Patterson (Yamaha)
4. Becca Sheets (Yamaha)
5. Ashley Copeland (Husqvarna)
Overall Point Standings GNCC XC1 Pro:
1. Charlie Mullins, 85
2. Kailub Russell, 80
3. Chris Bach, 52
Overall Point Standings GNCC XC2 Pro Lites:
1. Andrew Delong, 78
2. Jason Thomas, 66
3. Grant Baylor, 62
Overall Point Standings GNCC Women’s:
1. Maria Forsberg, 58
2. Kacy Martinez, 57
3. Jessica Patterson, 56