Photo: Ken Hill

Kailub Russell overcame some early challenges and challengers to win a muddy Round 2 of the 2015 Grand National Cross Country series in Georgia on Sunday.

Russell grabbed the holeshot and uncharacteristically fell back to fourth on the opening lap. Second year rider Ryan Sipes helped provide some pressure early but even he couldn't fend off the two-time defending Champion who finally got his bearings, made a charge to the front and never looked back.

"Just a little crash set me back, then right after we came to a mud hole and everyone went around and I went through it and got back into second and shortly after was able to regain the lead," said Russell, who now has 24 wins, just one shy of Fred Andrews for fourth-place on the all-time wins list.

Sipes later got stuck in a mud hole dropping him back. Mud holes were a hazard all riders were on the look-out for thanks to a deluge of rain in the days leading up to the race held at Aonia Pass Motocross Park. Josh Strang, who opened his season in second-place, was riding in the same position late in the race when he hit a lapped rider and broke the front brake rotor. He only lost a few places after returning to the pits for a new wheel and quickly claimed the runner-up spot again where he finished for the second week in a row.

Thad Duvall, who battled for and lost third-place on the last lap in Round 1 to Chris Bach, got on the podium this time around. Bach posted a similar fight for fourth-place with Jordan Ashburn and was on the losing side this round as Ashburn took fourth and Bach settled for fifth. Sipes finished in 10th after emerging from his muddy encounter. MotoSport rider Brad Bakken took 10th place in the XC2 class.

Russell extended his lead to 10 over Strang and DuVall is now in third place just two points ahead of Bach. GNCC racing returns March 29 at the Steel Creek Campground in Morganton, NC.

2015 GNCC Round 2 XC1 Pro Results

  1. Kailub Russell - MotoSport rider
  2. Josh Strang
  3. Thad DuVall
  4. Jordan Ashburn
  5. Chris Bach
  6. Grant Baylor
  7. Russell Bobbitt
  8. Tyler Medaglia
  9. Adam Bonneur
  10. Ryan Sipes

2015 GNCC Overall National Championship Standings

  1. Kailub Russell (60) - MotoSport rider
  2. Josh Strang (50)
  3. Thad DuVall (39)
  4. Chris Bach (37)
  5. Nick Davis (28)
  6. Jordan Ashburn (28)
  7. Grant Baylor (26)
  8. Jason Thomas (26)
  9. Tyler Medaglia (26)
  10. Craig DeLong (16)