Kailub Russell Captures 2013 XC1 National Championship at Ironman GNCC Title

Josh Strang Equal Third Despite Final Round DNF


Heading into the final round of the 2013 AMSOIL Grand National Cross Country Series, only two points separated Factory FMF/KTM teammates Kailub Russell and Charlie Mullins in the National Championship standings.

The 19th running of the AMSOIL Ironman GNCC set the stage for an epic finale as it was a winner-take-all affair at the AMSOIL Ironman GNCC finale and it was Russell who prevailed, clinching his first career XC1 Overall National Championship after three-hours of close racing competition.

It wasn't without a fight from his teammate Mullins, who lead in the early portion of the race after battling with AmPro Yamaha teammates Paul Whibley and Jordan Ashburn on the opening lap. It was Ashburn who captured the $250 All Balls Racing XC1 Holeshot Award, as he led Whibley, Mullins, Russell and Rocky Mountain ATV/MC's Josh Strang into the woods.
Jordan Ashburn grabbed the final holeshot of the 2013 GNCC Season - Credit: Ken Hill
On the opening lap, GNCC officials were forced to hold Russell for 15 seconds due to an infraction on the starting line after he inadvertently started his bike prior to the green flag, indicating the start of the race.

"I usually rest my thumb on my starter before the ten seconds call but this time I put a little too much pressure on it. I made a mistake and they penalized me for it," Russell stated.

That didn't stop a hungry Russell from making his way to the front of the field by the end of Lap 1, where Mullins tucked in behind his teammate for the second place spot. The duo flip-flopped the lead a few times from there and it was Whibley who fell into the third place position early on.

Despite a valiant effort by Mullins, Russell was able to maintain his lead and finish 36 seconds ahead of his teammate to claim his first career XC1 Overall National Championship at the AMSOIL Ironman GNCC finale.

"It's been great season but it hasn't been without its struggles, that's for sure," Russell said. I was forced to dig myself out of a hole in the points earlier in the season and I gave myself another shot at the championship today and it's a great honour to be up here and battle with some of the best guys in the world."
Charles Mullins fell just seven points short of winning his second GNCC title - Credit: Ken Hill
Only seven points away from a second career championship, the 2011 Overall National Champion Mullins finished second overall for the day at the Ironman. Mullins ends the season with a total of five overall wins in 2013.

"It was a fun year. What can I say, Kailub rode well today and I gave it everything I had and came up a little short," Mullins said. "Somebody had to lose and I guess it was me this year but I can't be bummed about too much since I stayed healthy.

"It's good fuel for the fire next year and hopefully come back strong and go after the #1 plate in 2014."

Back in thrid position it was Whibley who maintained the final podium position, however it didn't take long for Thad DuVall and Aussie Josh Strang to join Whibley for the battle. Midway through the race, DuVall and Strang made the pass on Whibley for the third place battle but just as quickly as they excelled, both riders fell victim to the rough Ironman terrain.

Strang and DuVall both experienced crashes that kept them from finishing the season finale in Indiana. The misfortune of DuVall and Strang led to a favorable opportunity for the reigning XC1 Champion Paul Whibley, as he was able to reclaim the third place position his second podium finish of the season.
Reigning Champ, New Zealand's Paul Whibley finished 5th in this years title with two round podium finishes to his name- Credit: Ken Hill
In the end the reigning and two-time GNCC Champion and New Zealand native rounding out the 2013 season with the fifth place overall position in the championship standings.

"This is the premier off-road racing series in the world, everyone dreams about coming to GNCC and for me to come over here and win championships and get podium finishes is awesome," Whibley said. "I'm just happy to be over here racing these guys and to come back and have two podiums at the end of the season is a good way to end it and I'm looking forward to the 2014 season."

FMF/RPM/KTM's Rory Mead turned it up in the second half of the race, jumping from eighth place all the way into the fourth place position. Ashburn dropped into the fifth place spot, where he then set his sights on Mead ahead.

Mead was able to hold off Ashburn to capture the fourth place position, while Ashburn finished just ahead of his teammate Ricky Russell in the sixth place spot. Litz Racing/Honda's Takeshi Koikeda finished seventh, followed by Adam Bonneur in eighth and Justin Bonita and Chris Bach rounded out the top ten in the XC1 Class.

Grant Baylor held on to win the XC2 championship for 2013 - Credit: Ken Hill
In the XC2 Class, it was F.A.R Husky's Andrew DeLong who once again topped the XC2 Pro Lites division, followed by Ohio's Scott Grills in the second place position.

Pennsylvania's Shane Hufford Jr. maintained a sold position all afternoon, securing his third podium finish of the season in the XC2 Class. Indiana's very own Zach Love captured the $100 Holeshot Award.

The XC2 Pro Lites Championship came down to the final round between KTM Support Rider Grant Baylor and DirtWise Schools/ rider Jason Thomas. The Ironman finale presented a rough and tumble course to the competitors as reigning XC2 Champion Thomas rounded out his day with a fourth place finish in the class.

Baylor knew what he had to do in order to clinch the championship so the 16-year-old played it safe as he cruised in for a sixth place finish in the class, just behind the fifth place rider of Morgantown Powersports-backed Layne Michael, aboard his all-new CRF-250.

Baylor's sixth place finish was enough to capture his first career XC2 Pro Lites Championship in his rookie season in the class.
XC1 Final Round Podium - Credit: Ken Hill
XC1 Round 13 Results
1. Kaliub Russell
2. Charles Mullins
3. Paul Whibley
4. Rory Mead
5. Jordan Ashburn
6. Ricky Russell
7. Takeshi Koikeda
8. Adam Bonneur
9. Justin Bonita
10. Chris Bach

XC1 Final 2013 Championship Standings:
1. Kailub Russell 345 Pts
2. Charles Mullins 335 Pts
3. Chris Bach 213 Pts
4. Josh Strang 213 Pts
5. Tahd Duvall 206 Pts
6. Jordan Ashburn 189 Pts
7. Paul Whibley 185 Pts
8. Takeshi Koikeda 166 Pts
9. Rory Mead 163 Pts
10. Adam Bonneur 157 Pts
Australian Josh Strang finished equal third in the XC1 Points Standings despite a final round DNF - Credit: Ken Hill
XC2 Round 13 Results
1. Andrew Delong
2. Scott Grills
3. Shane Hufford
4. Jason Thomas
5. Layne Michael
6. Grant Baylor
7. Ian Blythe
8. Travis Coy
9. Ryan Lojak
10. Derrik Allen

XC2 Final 2013 Championship Standings:
1. Grant Baylor 272 Pts
2. Jason Thomas 254 Pts
3. Andrew Delong 241 Pts
4. Shane Hufford 195 Pts
5. Scott Grills 161 Pts
6. Layne Michael 136 Pts
7. Samuel Evans 126 Pts
8. Christopher Douglas 123 Pts
9. Travis Coy 119 Pts
10. Michael McGinnis 115 Pts
Kailub Russell celebrates his 2013 GNCC Championship win with this KTM Team - Credit: Ken Hill
Final 2013 GNCC Championship Standings:
1. Kailub Russell 335 Pts
2. Charles Mullins 328 Pts
3. Chris Bach 192 Pts
4. Josh Strang 176 Pts
5. Paul Whibley 169 Pts
6. Thad Duvall 161 Pts
7. Jordan Ashburn 156 Pts
8. Grant Baylor 143 Pts
9. Jason Thomas 139 Pts
10. Andrew DeLong 121 Pts

Top Image: GNCC official Tim Cotter presents Kailub Russell with the National #1 plate

Credit: Ken Hill

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