Chris Bach returns to GNCC Racing with Trail Jesters KTM Racing

Copake Lake, New York (June 18, 2018) – Trail Jesters KTM Racing is very pleased to announce today that Chris Bach has joined the team for the remainder of 2018. Bach will race a 2018 KTM 125 SX in select Grand National Cross Country XC3 125 ProAm and AMA Pro Motocross 125cc All Star events.

Chris hails from Crown Point, Indiana and was a long time professional offroad racer riding for both Honda and KTM before retiring from full time racing in 2017. Chris is now doing R&D work for KTM, in the commercial real estate business and riding for fun when he can. Chris had many successes throughout his professional career including multiple XC1 podiums at Snowshoe, WV. So it is quite fitting that Chris announce his return to the sport he loves and that he will ride select GNCC events in the XC3 125 ProAm class beginning at the upcoming Snowshoe GNCC on June 20.

“I’m elated to do some summer time racing with the Trail Jesters crew this year. I’ve been having more fun than ever riding my dirt bike after officially retiring from XC1 and full-time racing in 2017, which is really what sparked this whole idea. To be able to partner up with the Trail Jesters team at these events on a 125 is really icing on the cake. Ross and the whole crew have a passion for racing that I think is easily lost by many and I’m so fortunate and humbled to go racing and burn some premix with such a great group.” said Chris Bach “And I never raced XC2, let alone a 125, so I’m excited to experience GNCC racing in a new light on the small bore offering from KTM.”

Chris Bach in 2017 on his RPM Racing KTM 350 XC-F.

Also of note and very fitting to this next phase of racing for Chris is that he will run the number 133 on his bike in honor of the late Dale Cooke.

“Two stroke fever has swept the nation and we couldn’t help but get caught up in the excitement and resurgence of racing these popular machines. After talking to Chris it was an easy decision to broaden our focus and support a great rider that wanted to get back into the sport he loves.” said Ross Mauri, the founder of Trail Jesters.

Thank you to KTM, FMF Racing, Motorex, and Edelmann’s Sales in Troy, NY for their continued support.

 

2018 John Penton GNCC Team Report – Millfield, OH

A 15 mile technical and muddy course turned the PM race of the John Penton GNCC into a grueling three hour affair for Trail Jesters KTM Racing riders Ben Kelley, Owen Giese and Simon Johnson.

Ben got off the XC2 line about mid-pack and came around on lap 1 in sixth place and over a minute off the class leader. Ben continued to charge forward putting down best in class times for laps 2 and 3 moving him into third place. Ben worked up into second place and only 20 seconds off fellow KTM rider Josh Toth at the scoring line on lap 4. But the final lap proved to be a tough one for Ben getting stuck in mud holes several times which drained his energy and so he cruised in to take 2nd in XC2 250 Pro at GNCC round 7. Ben’s FMF equipped KTM 250 XC-F ran flawlessly and his pace in the mud and ruts garnered him seventh overall for the day.


Ben Kelley with a strong ride in the Ohio mud on his KTM 250XC-F (photo by Darrin Chapman)

In the 250 A class Simon Johnson had a terrific race getting a good start and coming around in second place in class on lap 1. The 17 year old continued to put down impressive lap times moving into first place with a minute and a half lead after three laps. But on lap four Simon got buried in a mud hole and lost 25 minutes getting himself out resulting in a frustrating sixth place finish for the day.

Owen Giese slid out in the first turn setting himself up for a charge up through the field. Owen put his New England riding background to good use moving up to third place in class by the end of lap 1. Owen continued to run very well maintaining his position and pace until getting stuck in the same mud hole as Simon on lap 4! It took Owen over 12 minutes to get out and he came across the line to take 4th place in 250 A class.


Simon (811) and Owen (322) ride FMF equipped KTM 250 XC-F bikes from Edelmann Sales in Troy, New York. (photo by Darrin Chapman)

2018 X-Factor Whitetails GNCC Team Report – Peru, IN

Ben got off the starting line well but slowed in the extreme dust on the second and third straightaways leaving him to enter the woods in 14th place in class. At the end of the first lap Ben had worked his way up to 7th place but was 40 seconds off the lead and thus had his work cut out for him the remainder of the 3 hour race. Ben climbed up to 4th by lap 2 and then to 2nd place by lap 5 but still 30 seconds separated him from class leader Josh Toth. Ben put on a charge to try to catch his fellow KTM rider laying down his best lap time of the race on the white flag lap but fell 8 seconds short at the checkered flag. The spectators enjoyed another great battle from this pair of riders from Connecticut.

Ben’s FMF equipped KTM 250 XC-F ran flawlessly and his pace landed him ninth overall for the day. Ben holds a 25 point lead in the XC2 250 Pro class series heading in GNCC round 7.

In the 250 A class Simon Johnson took 5th place and Owen Giese took 7th place. Simon and Owen ride FMF equipped KTM 250 XC-F bikes from Edelmann Sales in Troy, New York. Simon is currently in third place for the 250 A series points with Owen in fourth place after six rounds.

2018 Camp Coker GNCC Team Report – Society Hill, SC

Ben Kelley takes second in XC2 250 Pro and seventh overall at Camp Coker GNCC in Society Hill, South Carolina.

Round 5 didn’t begin too well for Ben as he and another rider came together and went down in the second corner. After a good dirt sample Ben remounted and got going again albeit dead last in class. When he came around the first lap Ben was in 14th place in XC2 and more than a minute off the class leaders. Ben went to work and moved steadily up through the field until taking over the second spot by the half way point in the race … but still more than a minute behind race leader FMF KTM Factory Racing’s Josh Toth. As the race progressed over the rough and dusty course Ben charged on his factory prepared FMF KTM 250 XC-F to finish second in XC2 250 Pro class by 12 seconds and his pace also landed him seventh overall for the day.

Ben retains the series points lead in XC2 250 Pro class heading in GNCC round 6.

In the 250 A class Simon Johnson worked his way from 12th in class after the first lap up to fourth place at the finish. While Owen Giese took 5th in 250 A class. Simon and Owen ride FMF equipped KTM 250 XC-F bikes from Edelmann Sales in Troy, New York.

Simon is currently in third place for the 250 A series points with Owen in fourth place after five rounds.


2018 FMF Steele Creek GNCC Team Report – Morganton, NC

Ben Kelley claimed his third win in a row at Steele Creek GNCC in Morganton, North Carolina. Ben got off the starting line in fourth place and took over the XC2 250 Pro class lead on lap 1 to go on and lead every lap to the wire. Ben battled through the first half of the race with fellow KTM rider Josh Toth as the duo worked their way up in the overall. In the later part of the race Ben opened up the lead eventually winning by over 2 minutes on his FMF equipped KTM 250 XC-F. Ben’s pace also landed him in forth overall for the day on the rough North Carolina track. Ben has solidified his series points lead in XC2 250 Pro class heading in GNCC round 5.

In the 250 A class team riders Simon Johnson and Owen Giese both had setbacks on the start of the race but passed their way up in class throughout the three hour PM race climbing up to 4th and 5th at the checkers. Simon and Owen ride FMF equipped KTM 250 XC-F bikes from Edelmann Sales in Troy, New York. Simon remains in third 250 A series points with Owen in fifth place after four rounds.

2018 The General GNCC Team Report – Washington, GA

Ben Kelley took his second win in a row at The General GNCC in Washington, Georgia. Ben got off to a mid pack start and passed his way up to fifth place after the first lap. The class leaders had about a half a minute gap at that point and Ben set off to catch them. By lap 4 Ben had caught the class leader and passed a number of XC1 riders as well. The final two laps saw Ben continue his strong ride and eventually win the race by over a minute and a half. Ben’s speed and fitness has allowed him to move into the points lead in XC2 250 Pro class heading in GNCC round 4.

In the 250 A class team riders Simon Johnson and Owen Giese battled through a tough A250 class to claim 5th and 10th in class. Simon sits third in the series points with Owen in fourth pace after three rounds.

2018 Wild Boar GNCC Team Report – Palatka, FL

The Wild Boar GNCC is always a tough race with track conditions that push riders to their limit. Team rider Ben Kelley got off to a mid pack start in the PM race. Ben then worked his way up to 4th in class on lap one and began to reel in his training partner and fellow KTM rider Josh Toth on lap two as the duo battled for the lead until the end. We are stoked that Ben claimed his first GNCC XC2 250 Pro class win and 4th overall in the Florida sand. Ben heads into GNCC round 3 tied for the lead in the XC2 250 Pro series points.

In the 250 A class team riders Simon Johnson and Owen Giese pushed each other for the majority of the race taking 4th and 5th in class with personal best 34th and 35th overall. Simon now sits third in the series points with Owen in fourth place after two rounds.


2017 GNCC Year in Review

Ben Kelley and Mackenizie Tricker feature in our 2017 GNCC highlights reel. We also give a few shout outs to our great sponsors and crew.

Ben Kelley update.

I have been waiting for the right time to update everyone on Ben Kelley.  Some of you may know that Ben broke his right wrist during moto training on Sunday November 13. This was the day after he won his second JDay Offroad Sprint Enduro championship. It’s the kind of wrist break riders dread most … the scaphoid bone. This is the break can end a racers career and so not to be taken lightly. After medical consultation and getting advice from his coaches Ben elected for surgery to pin the bone to better enable a complete healing.

The surgery went well and Ben’s wrist was immobilized to let the healing process begin. Ben changed to an off the bike only training program but obviously couldn’t do anything at all with his right arm. It took more than 3 months until the doctor released Ben to begin riding and able to race with a custom wrist brace (the kind Justin Barcia has worn in SX/MX). Only 12 days to get back on the bike and be ready to line up at GNCC round 1 in Union, SC.

Ben’s new 2017 KTM 250 XC-F bikes were ready to go and so he did 2 days of suspension testing in NJ. He couldn’t really run at his normal pace at all but at least Gilles from GTR Suspension could get the new cone valve forks dialed in. Ben then headed to South Carolina to stay with friends and try to get some woods riding time in. He did get in two days of trail riding but the pain stopped him from pushing too hard or training for long periods on the bike.

The weekend came and it was time to go GNCC racing. None of us really knew how he would fair or even if he would last the whole 3 hour race. Ben got a good start (6th off the line) but steadily moved backward the first lap. He settled in running in 13th place XC2 and about 30th overall. As the 2 hour mark passed we noticed Ben standing in his “attack” position and pushing. So we all (jesters crew was placed around the track) started to signal him to push harder and chase a group of XC2 riders about 30 seconds ahead of him. It was amazing to watch him charge and pick off the places. These weren’t easy passes either, at that point in a race no one is just moving over to let you by for position. We saw some good bar to bar action as he moved up. In the final hour Ben passed forward 7 places in XC2 and 4 in XC1 those last 2 laps to finish 6th XC2 & 18th overall.

When he got off the bike he was clearly not that fatigued … just had a lot of wrist pain and pretty bad blisters on both hands. Ben had fought arm pump the first hour of the race … we believe it had to do with compensating for the right wrist injury. My take from this is he will race himself up to speed in the coming weeks and it’s just a matter of time before the pain subsides and his arm strength and wrist flexibility returns.

We want to thank Antti Kallonen, Brooks Hamilton and KTM North America for their support and guidance these past few months. Thanks also to Steve Hatch for the mental and physical coaching, on the bike and off, to help get Ben back in the game.

Here we go … we are ready to race!

Ben Kelley – Wild Boar GNCC round 1 (photo by Will Wooten)

 

Ironman GNCC rd 13 – Crawfordsville, IN

The final 2016 GNCC round was held at the popular Ironman grounds in Indiana.  Our GNCC rookies were determined to end the series on strong note.  And wow did they deliver … with Ben 7th in XC1/7th overall and Josh 3rd XC2/11th overall.

XC1 you say?? Yup, Ben signed a one race XC1 deal with AmPro Yamaha. Ben went down to South Carolina (with Josh) and had 3 days testing the bike and decided together with Randy Hawkins that he would race it at the final round.  Ben basically rode with Daniel Milner’s engine and suspension set up. Now you have to realize that Ben has never raced a 4 stroke or a 450.  Most people I spoke to on Saturday and Sunday before the race expected that he would fade after the half way point given the extra energy it takes to race a big bike. But Ben isn’t a normal person and he has the heart of a lion.  When the race started Ben got off to a slow start and after lap two began to really feel the bike and ride more aggressively. As the laps progressed he reeled in and passed his way up to 7th (3 seconds off 6th place). That’s a pretty great result and I think Ben turned a lot of heads with his ride.

Josh wrapped up his four race 2016 deal with AmPro Yamaha with his third podium finish out of four races for them. Josh got a poor start but had worked his way up to 5th by half way thru the first lap. Then he crashed pretty hard and bent the front end up good. Took him a while to get around to the pits and with help from the mechanics got the front end straightened out and forks working again. He then put his head down and charged all race passing into 3rd on the last lap. A strong finish to a great year for Josh.

The guys complete their first GNCC series with very respectable class and overall results.  In fact … and I realize I am a bit biased … but their results demonstrate they are the Pro Lites rookies of the year in GNCC.

  • Ben Kelley – 5th XC2 & 12th overall. Ben earns national #12 for 2017.
  • Josh Toth – 4th XC2 & 14th overall. Josh is national #14 next year.

Both are in contract talks with multiple teams/manufacturers for 2017 … stay tuned.

Ben Kelley, Ampro Factory Yamaha YZ450FX

Ben Kelley, Ampro Factory Yamaha YZ450FX

Ben Kelley photo by Alice Cronenberg

Ben Kelley photo by Alice Cronenberg

Josh Toth on the Ironman podium

Josh Toth on the Ironman podium

Josh Toth photo by Alice Cronenberg

Josh Toth photo by Alice Cronenberg