Moto Media

Kailub Russell wins 2013 GNCC XC1 Championship

Jen Kenyon writes for the GNCC.

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.
Jordan Ashburn claims his first $250 All Balls Racing XC1 Holeshot Award of the season. Photo: Ken Hill

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.

Whibley (1), Mullins (112) and Ashburn (9) got out to an early lead at the Ironman Photo: 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.

Charlie Mullins put forth a hard fought battle to finish second overall for the season Photo: Ken Hill

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.

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. 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.

GNCC official Tim Cotter presents Kailub Russell with the National #1 plate.  Photo: Ken Hill

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 honor to be up here and battle with some of the best guys in the world.”

Congratulations to the Factory KTM team for a successful 2013 GNCC season Photo: 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.”

Whibley rode on to capture his second consecutive podium finish after coming back from a mid-season injury. The two-time GNCC Champion and New Zealand native will round 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.”

XC1 podium: (left) Charlie Mullins, Kailub Russell, (right) Paul Whibley Photo: Ken Hill

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.