FMF KTM Factory Racing’s Ben Kelley continued a strong bid for back-to-back titles in the 2022 AMA Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) Series following his fifth-consecutive victory at round five’s Camp Coker GNCC in Society Hill, South Carolina. The defending champion assumed the lead midway through the opening lap and he built up a sizeable gap for the remainder of the race to come away with another dominant victory in the XC1 Open Pro Championship.
Kelley had a good jump off the line, charging his KTM 350 XC-F into third in the first few corners. Working his way through the dusty conditions, he quickly passed into second early on and chased down the race leader before the end of the first lap. Once out front, Kelley started to pull a gap over second-place but he got caught in some vines and crashed on the second lap. Still able to maintain his lead, Kelley recovered swiftly and continued to set a great pace through the second hour of racing. Despite a close-call while trying to get around a lapper on the final lap, Kelley was able to stretch his lead to over two-minutes by the end of three hours.
Ben Kelley: “This track beat me down last year and coming into it this year, I did all the right things and I felt good. The track was super square-edge and rough, so it was tricky. You could go so fast, which I loved, but it was slippery out there. Going onto the moto track was awesome, I’m pumped they put that back in and jumping through those rollers was sick! It’s awesome to get another win but I’m just trying to stay focused – just riding and trying to do my thing.”
Teammate Josh Toth got off to a mid-pack start in the XC1 Open Pro class and his momentum came to a halt after experiencing a big crash on the opening lap. After spending some time repairing damage to his bike, Toth re-mounted with a deficit of over a minute after the first lap and he worked hard to make up lost time. Riding in eighth for the first half of the race, he finally made moves into seventh around the halfway point and he settled in to secure seventh in XC1 and 19th overall for the day.
Josh Toth: “Today wasn’t the best day for me. Unfortunately, I had a mistake on lap one behind another rider in the dust and I hit a hole that I didn’t see, causing a big get-off. I messed up the bike pretty good and I had to stop and take some time to get that straightened out but I salvaged what I could and rode the rest of the day out.”
Trail Jesters KTM Racing’s Korie Steede earned her fifth-consecutive podium finish this season with another solid performance in the WXC class. Jumping into the lead early on, Steede fought hard throughout the two-hour race to ultimately come away with second-place on the day.
Next Race: Hoosier GNCC – Crawfordsville, Indiana – May 8, 2022
XC1 Open Pro Results – Camp Coker GNCC
1. Ben Kelley, KTM, 02:51:09.098
2. Trevor Bollinger, HQV, +02:11.370
3. Grant Baylor, GAS, +31.065
Overall Championship Standings
1. Ben Kelley, 150 points
2. Jordan Ashburn, 97
3. Trevor Bollinger, 89