Limestone 100 GNCC rd 6 – Springville, IN

“Bringing Connecticut to the map of the GNCC racing nation.”

That one phrase by the RacerTV announcer sums up our Limestone 100 experience.  Very gnarly track and conditions. All the best riders XC1 & XC2 went down at least once today including all the big dogs. But it turned out to be our best day at the national level to date. Josh got 6th off the line and when they came out of the woods 2 miles later he was in 1st XC2 and pulling away. He stayed out front for three laps until he went over bars jumping a log. In the time it took him to get his bike upright, turned around and back on the track he had dropped 4 places. In parallel Ben had been working his way up from a bad start and passed Bolinger for the lead … and gapped him by about 40 seconds. So now Ben is leading XC2 and stayed out front for 2 full laps. This was a game of picking the right lines and avoiding lappers. Ben unfortunately picked a wrong line … and while stuck in a mud hole he was passed by Bollinger and Delong. Ironically Kaluib Russell’s Mom helped get Ben out! By then he had lost a lot of time but was still in 3rd so he then set out to reel in Delong … finishing 6 second behind 2nd place at the checkers.  It took Josh about 2 laps to get his flow back but then he started picking off riders, laying down very fast lap times and ended up a personal best 4th XC2 and 9th overall.

Podiums and personal bests aside … we want to thank the Trail Jesters Racing support crew and our great sponsors for getting us here. Stay tuned, the best is yet to come.

Ben Kelley 3rd XC2 & 8th OA

Ben Kelley 3rd XC2 & 8th OA

Josh Toth 4th XC2 & 9th OA

Josh Toth 4th XC2 & 9th OA

Camp Coker GNCC rd 5 – Society Hill, SC

Thunder, lightening, down pour, mud holes, killer ruts, rooty … sounds like a good track for the New England rippas 🙂  and another solid round for Ben and Josh.

Ben Kelley 4th XC2 & 9th Overall at Camp Coker GNCC round 5.

Ben Kelley 4th XC2 & 9th Overall at Camp Coker GNCC round 5.

 

Josh Toth 8th XC2 & 16th OA at Camp Coker GNCC round 5.

Josh Toth 8th XC2 & 16th OA at Camp Coker GNCC round 5.

Steele Creek GNCC rd 3 – Morganton, NC

After the first two grueling GNCC rounds to learn about what it takes to survive and succeed racing at the national level … the team headed North to re-group. During the two week break Ben focused on getting his suspension dialed in (thank you GTR!) and Josh had several things to sort out as well (thank you Edelmann’s and Justin MacBurnie).

With fresh gear (thank you MSR!) the team then headed out to round 3 of the GNCC series in Morganton, North Carolina. When the flag dropped Ben got a mid-pack start and Josh was near the rear.  But when they came around for the first lap Ben sat 7th XC2 and Josh 9th.  The race progressed and our boys worked their way up passing XC1 and XC2 riders as well as a lot of lappers.  For laps 4 and 5 the guys were running nose to tail and swapping positions as they  moved up in the overall.  The last two laps saw Josh loose his rear brake pedal and take the energy hit trying to maintain his pace while keeping the bike on the trail. Ben pressed forward maintaining a torrid pace to move up a place each lap to take a well earned 4th XC2 and 12th overall.  Josh finished 8th XC2 and 17th OA.  Another solid race to build on for the team.

Ben Kelley (photo by Ken Hill)

Ben Kelley (photo by Ken Hill)

 

Josh Toth (photo Ken Hill)

Josh Toth (photo by Ken Hill)

 

Cannonball GNCC rd 2 – Sparta, GA

Round 2 of the GNCC series took Trail Jesters Racing to Sparta, Georgia. The riders and crew were in good spirits and looking forward to the upcoming grueling duel with many of the top riders in the world. The guys got off the line pretty well and moved into the top 10 in XC2 and in the low 20’s overall.  After two laps Josh sat 7/21 and Ben was 8/22 only 2 seconds back! They shortly thereafter hit their first pit stop for fuel … coming out Josh’s bike wouldn’t start and that pretty much ended his day at 2 laps completed. Bummer for Josh to take a mech DNF, but he will bounce back next round.

Ben rode hard and smart picking up places and maintaining a great pace to take 6th place XC2 and 17th overall.  Ben now sits 5th in the XC2 championship points chase.

Ben Kelley 6th place XC2 GNCC rd 2 (photo by Leanne Dutlinger)

Ben Kelley 6th place XC2 GNCC rd 2
            (photo by Leanne Dutlinger)

Wild Boar GNCC rd 1 – Palatka, FL

The race season officially began for Trail Jesters Racing at Wild Boar GNCC.  Now in our third year as a team, racing the entire GNCC series is the biggest challenge and opportunity to date for our young guns from New England. We were fortunate that team mate Jason Klammer could join in for round 1 as well. On race day spirits and anticipation were high in the Trail Jesters pits. The Wild Boar sand whoops and terrain proved to be brutal on the riders and the lappers only added to the obstacles to overcome! All in all it was a great start to the season with Josh finishing 6th XC2 & 16th overall, Ben took 7th XC2 & 18th OA and Jason placed 9th XC2 & 20th OA. That’s right!  All three jesters in the top 10 XC2 Pro Lites and top 20 Overall!!! Great showing by the team at this grueling test of man and machine.

Josh Toth 6th place XC2 GNCC rd 1 (photo by Art Pepin)

Josh Toth 6th place XC2 GNCC rd 1 (photo by Art Pepin)