Kaliub Russel is now tied in XC1 Pro points with Paul Whibley after round six of the Can-Am GNCC series.
Limestone 100, round six of the Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series, marks the second new stop on this year’s 13-round schedule. Equipped with new course layouts and added obstacles, these minor changes have added an element of surprise and unpredictability to the already exciting championship battles. Factory FMF/KTM
’s Kailub Russell put in another flawless ride to join AmPro Yamaha’s Paul Whibley in the points lead as the series approaches the halfway point in two weeks. F.A.R Husqvarna
’s Andrew DeLong put a buzz throughout the pits as he put himself into contention for the overall lead from the XC2 class, giving Steward Baylor the most competition he’s seen all season long.
The southern Indiana terrain hosted a slick set of trails with plenty of rocks and tree roots, which made for a grueling three-hour battle through the woods of the Lawrence County Recreational Park. Paul Whibley grabbed yet another one of his seemingly patented $250 Motosport.com Holeshots aboard his AmPro Yamaha YZF450
. Factory FMF/KTM’s Charlie Mullins and JG Offroad/American Honda’s Jimmy Jarrett set in just behind Whibley on the opening lap, but it didn’t take long for the defending champ to move into the lead position. Mullins showed every indication that he was ready to take his first win of the year as he battled hard with Russell and Whibley early on, but a little bad luck plagued the defending champ and he was eventually forced to pull off the track in order to fix his bike. Although Mullins missed a lap, his crew was able to put the bike back on the track and Mullins finished the race with a few points.
Meanwhile, Andrew DeLong headed the XC2 trio that was rapidly approaching the overall lead on adjusted time each lap. Steward Baylor Jr. has a history of dominating the XC2 field and occasionally holding the overall lead at times, but F.A.R Husqvarna’s DeLong left Baylor very little room for error this time. Baylor ran into bike issues while battling with DeLong in the final stretch and things only got worse for Baylor when he crashed on the final lap and lost all hope of maintaining a perfect record in the XC2 class this season. DeLong picked up the pace even more and got within five seconds of Russell’s overall lead time, but Russell claims, “I had a feeling that I was riding good enough to take the overall win but I’ll definitely have to pick my pace up a little to make sure those XC2 guys stay back.” DeLong wasn’t able to best Russell for the overall win, but the rookie landed second place overall and his first XC2 class win this season.
The Limestone 100 overall podium: Paul Whibley (left), Kaliub Russell (center) and Andrew DeLong (right).
DeLong says he wasn’t necessarily focusing on the overall win. “I was just focusing on not making mistakes out there,” DeLong said. “It wasn’t about who was the fastest, it was about who was the smoothest and made the least mistakes.”
Shenandoah Honda/Offroadchampion’s Thad DuVall battled with AmPro Yamaha Racing’s Jordan Ashburn all afternoon and both riders put in one of their best performances of the year. DuVall eventually worked his way up to third around the halfway point and tightened the gap on Whibley heading into the final stretch. Whibley said afterwards, “I wasn’t too comfortable with the track right away. It was pretty slippery and hard packed out there and I’m more used to the softer dirt.” DuVall distanced himself from Ashburn on the final lap and came through the finish in third place, but was later penalized for making a bad line selection in previous laps. DuVall took fourth in the XC1 class, while Ashburn grabbed his first podium finish of the season with third.
“It’s a big learning curve going from XC2 to here [XC1],” Ashburn said. “Starting with these guys is so much harder than chasing them before and it takes a lot of time. I felt really good and rode as hard as I could all day.”
Kailub Russell’s fourth victory brought him to the top of the overall point standings, where he is now tied with Whibley at 147 points. Mullins sits within striking distance of the leaders as he still awaits his first win of the season. Round 5 winner Rory Mead finished sixth in his class after experiencing a dramatic week of last-minute travel to his home country of New Zealand. Mead still holds fourth overall in the standings, ahead of DuVall’s consistent string of finishes this season.
Obermeyer Yamaha-backed Chris Bach put in a solid day; finishing fifth in the XC1 class aboard his new YZF450 machine. JNCC champion Takeshi Koikeda finished a season-best seventh behind WMR/KTM’s Rory Mead and Garrett Edmisten came in eighth. New Jersey’s Jesse Groem returned for the first time since the season opener in Florida, taking the ninth place position ahead of WMR/KTM’s Steven Squire, who rounded out the top ten in XC1.
DeLong’s XC2 class win ended Baylor’s five-race win-streak, but Baylor still tops the overall point standings with seven rounds to go. KR4 Performance’s Jason Thomas took home second in XC2 behind DeLong. Thomas put himself into the lead battles early on, but ran into some issues near the end that set him back a few minutes in the overall. Thomas still holds second overall, while Jesse Robinson (HUS) sits in third with a fifteenth place finish for the day.
It was an incredible day for Obermeyer Yamaha/Raines Riding University/Offroadviking.com rider Jedediah Haines as he secured his first-ever XC2 podium finish, while also taking ninth overall behind Thomas. Haines came out strong in the early stages and he held tough with the lead pack for a majority of the three-hour race.
Midwestern-native Adam Bonneur (KAW) has been a Top Amateur Award contender all season long and finally took the honors with a fifteenth overall and the Open A class win. Bonneur edged out Open A runner-up Chris Douglas (KTM) by only eleven seconds for the top amateur spot, and 250 A winner Grant Baylor wasn’t far off pace in seventeenth overall. This year’s A-class lineup is ultra-competitive and there’s a full slate of guys capable of taking home the award.
Limestone 100 Masters (50+) top three.
Masters A (50+) riders swept the AM podium in Indiana, topped by Illinois’ Jeff Fredette (KAW). Tim Shephard (YAM) took second overall and second in the class, while Mark Patterson (SUZ) rounded out the podium. Ashley Crouch (KTM) came in second place to Factory FMF/KTM’s Maria Forsberg in the Women’s division and in a battle until the end, Hannah Otto (KTM) and Becca Sheets (YAM) took home third and fourth place respectively in the class and LeeAnn Bange rounded out the top five.
South Carolina’s Jonathan Johnson (KTM) took his first Youth overall of the season, in addition to his fifth consecutive win in the Super Mini (14-15) class. Kevin Sutphin (KAW) finished second place in the Super Mini (14-15) division, coming in less than 15 seconds behind Johnson for second overall. Kaleb Ward (KAW) rounded out the top three overall podium, while grabbing the Super Mini (12-13) class victory ahead of Triston Landrum (KTM). Indiana’s Michael Witkowski broke his four-race win-streak today after finishing third in the (12-13) division.
Round seven of the 2012 Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series heads to Masontown, West Virginia May 26 and 27 for the Can-Am Mountaineer Run GNCC. For more information, go to www.gnccracing.com
XC1 Pro Results:
1. Kailub Russell (KTM)
2. Paul Whibley (YAM)
3. Jordan Ashburn (YAM)
4. Thad DuVall (HON)
5. Chris Bach (YAM)
6. Rory Mead (KTM)
7. Takeshi Koikeda (KTM)
8. Garrett Edmisten (KAW)
9. Jesse Groemm (KTM)
10. Steven Squire (KTM)
XC2 Pro Lites Results:
1. Andrew DeLong (HSQ)
2. Jason Thomas (KTM)
3. Jedediah Haines (YAM)
4. Brad Bakken (YAM)
5. Scott Grills (HON)
6. Cody Gragg (YAM)
7. Michael McGinnis (KTM)
8. Ricky Mair (YAM)
9. Zach Nolan (KTM)
10. Steward Baylor Jr (KTM)
XC1 Pro Standings:
1. Kailub Russell (147/4 wins)
2. Paul Whibley (147/1 win)
3. Charlie Mullins (121)
4. Rory Mead (105) (1/win)
5. Thad DuVall (97)
6. Jordan Ashburn (89)
7. Chris Bach (79)
8. Garrett Edmisten (78)
9. Cory Buttrick (77)
10. Nathan Kanney (65)
XC2 Pro Lites Standings:
1. Steward Baylor Jr. (161/5 wins)
2. Jason Thomas (118)
3. Jesse Robinson (111)
4. Jedediah Haines (101)
5. Brad Bakken (97)
6. Andrew DeLong (93/1 win)
7. Cody Gragg (65)
8. Scott Grills (64)
9. AJ Stewart (63)
10. Michael McGinnis (52)
$250 Motosport.com Holeshot Award: Paul Whibley (YAM)
$100 Motosport.com Holeshot Award: Cody Gragg (YAM)