Words by: Chelsea Taylor at GNCCRacing.com – Photo by: Josh Hill

The 2016 AMSOIL Grand National Cross Country Series (GNCC) presented by Maxxis, an AMA National Championship, kicked off the 42nd Annual Season at the popular Rodman Planation in Palatka, Florida today, March 6. It did not take long for the racing action to heat back up following a four month off season. In the end it would be Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing/Bel-Ray’s Josh Strang crossing the finish line first with a commanding victory.

As the green flag dropped it was FMF/KTM Factory Racing’s Factory Kailub Russell who pulled a big lead over the rest of the XC1 Pro class, but quickly tipped over taking down Coastal Racing/Rockstar/Husqvarna’s Ryan Sipes and Westfield Powersports KTM Presented by Moose Racing’s Jordan Ashburn with him.

XC1 Podium: (2) Daniel Milner, (1) Josh Strang, (3) Kailub Russell. Photo: Ken Hill

XC1 Podium: (2) Daniel Milner, (1) Josh Strang, (3) Kailub Russell.
Photo: Ken Hill

Ricky Russell stuck with it and came out with the $125 All Balls Racing XC1 Pro Holeshot Award. R. Russell would continue leading the XC1 Pro class through the first lap, but eventually fell back to 11th overall by the time the checkered flag came out.

Strang was able to capitalize on R. Russell’s mistake and moved into the lead early on. JCR Honda/Lucas Oil/Maxxis/FLY Racing’s Chris Bach was on Strang’s back fender for the first half of the race where they switched back-and-fourth for the lead. Eventually Strang was able to pull past Bach where he had a 30 second gap on second at the end of the race.

“The last half of the 2015 season was good to me,” said Strang. “I didn’t spend any time pre-season training in Florida, so I just wanted to come down here and do well and try to win if the opportunity was there. Today I felt like I was riding pretty well and it was good to get a win.”

Strang heads into round two with the points lead.  Photo: Ken Hill

Strang heads into round two with the points lead.
Photo: Ken Hill

Meanwhile K. Russell was in the back of the pack working his way up from 11th. He was able to make up major time over the course of the last couple of laps creating a heated battle for second with N-Fab/AmPro Yamaha’s Daniel Milner. Milner would be able hold off the three-time National Champion and beat him to the line by two thousandths of a second.

After putting up a good fight for the overall, Bach would eventually end up in fourth. Sipes would work his way through the pack to end up with an impressive fifth place finish. N-Fab/AmPro Yamaha-backed Grant Baylor finished sixth, followed by Canadian competitor Tyler Medaglia in seventh, Ashburn following in eighth and KTM/SRT’s Steward Baylor in ninth.

It looked as if things were shaping up for Rocky Mountain ATV*MC/KR4/FAR Racing Husqvarna’s Thad Duvall, but unfortunately he came across a mechanical issue in the first half of the race that prohibited him from finishing.

“Sometime during the second lap Thad hit something that messed with the connectors fuel hose and the plastic and it eventually broke the connector off and then the fuel pump stop working,” said Team Manager Fred Andrews.

XC2 Pro Lites Podium: (2), Tegan Temple, (1) Trevor Bollinger, (3) Craig Delong. Photo: Ken Hill

XC2 Pro Lites Podium: (2), Tegan Temple, (1) Trevor Bollinger, (3) Craig Delong.
Photo: Ken Hill

In the XC2 Pro Lites division it was JCR/Honda’s Trevor Bollinger who took the top spot on the podium after a grueling three hours on one of the most challenging and rough courses that GNCC has to offer. Bollinger was followed by Beta USA’s Tegan Temple and Coastal Racing/Husqvarna/MSR’s Craig Delong. Delong will head into round two with a little extra cash courtesy of Hot Cams for his $100 XC2 Pro Lites Holeshot Award.

“I was able to go out to the JCR headquarters in California and test this winter in addition to coming to Florida,” said Trevor Bollinger. “I’ve never really came south to train and I really think this was an advantage.”

Craig Delong got the $100 XC2 Pro Lites Hot Cams Holeshot Award. Photo: Ken Hill

Craig Delong got the $100 XC2 Pro Lites Hot Cams Holeshot Award.
Photo: Ken Hill

Pennsylvania native Alex Teagarden came away with the first victory of the season in the 250 A division and a ninth place overall finish. His respectable placement earned him the $125 American Kargo Top Amateur Award.

The youth race took to the Florida woods at 8 a.m. starting the day. Following the 1.5 hour race it was Super Mini Jr. (12-13) competitor, Zack Davidson, who came out on top by over two minutes. Pennsylvania’s Hunter Riemer filled the second place position and New Jersey native Michael Beeler Jr. took the last spot of the podium.

The 10 a.m. race was dominated by the WXC class, where all three ladies also made up the overall podium. FMF/KTM Factory Racing’s Kacy Martinez was sporting the No. 1 plate across the finish line as she began her quest to become a three-time WXC National Champion. FLY Racing/Maxxis/Seat Concepts/Yamaha’s Becca Sheets and Bonzi/RideMPS.com/Yamaha’s Brooke Cosner rounded out the podium.

Kacy Martinez wins the WXC division.  Photo: Ken Hill

Kacy Martinez wins the WXC division.
Photo: Ken Hill

The 2016 AMSOIL GNCC Series resumes next weekend, March 12 and 13, at the brand-new Maxxis Cannonball GNCC in Sparta, Georgia.

For more information on the series, visit the official website at www.gnccracing.comor call (304) 284-0084. Join the conversation on the series Facebook page, follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and be sure to always hashtag #GNCCLIVE.

Moose Racing Wild Boar GNCC
Palatka, Florida
Round 1 of 13
Sunday, March 6

XC1 Event Results:

Josh Strang (HSQ)
Daniel Milner (YAM)
Kailub Russell (KTM)
Chris Bach (HON)
Ryan Sipes (HSQ)
Grant Baylor (YAM)
Tyler Medaglia (HSQ)
Jordan Ashburn (KTM)
Trevor Bollinger (HON)
Steward Baylor Jr. (KTM)

*Overall National Championship Standings:

Josh Strang (30)
Daniel Milner (25)
Kailub Russell (21)
Chris Bach (18)
Ryan Sipes (16)
Grant Baylor (15)
Tyler Medaglia (14)
Jordan Ashburn (13)
Trevor Bollinger (12)
Steward Baylor Jr. (11)
*Indicates that the Overall National Championship Standings will determine the 2016 National Champion.

XC2 Event Results:

Trevor Bollinger (HON)
Tegan Temple (BET)
Craig Delong (HSQ)
Jesse Groemm (BET)
Zack Hayes (KTM)
Josh Toth (KTM)
Ben Kelley (KTM)
Mark Heresco Jr. (KTM)
Jason Klammer (KTM)
Trevor Barrett (HSQ)

XC2 Series Standings:

Trevor Bollinger (30)
Tegan Temple (25)
Craig Delong (21)
Jesse Groemm (18)
Zack Hayes (16)
Josh Toth (15)
Ben Kelley (14)
Mark Heresco Jr. (13)
Jason Klammer (12)
Trevor Barrett (11)