Ryan Sipes Finishes 5th Overall, Craig DeLong Lands on XC2 Pro Lites Podium With 3rd Place
PALATKA, Fla. (March 10, 2016) - The Husqvarna-backed Coastal Racing Team captured two top-five finishes on Sunday at the opening round of the Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) Series in Palatka, Florida. After three hours of racing in some of the most brutal conditions, filled with whooped-out sand sections and deep mud, XC1 Pro rider Ryan Sipes prevailed to capture fifth overall in a highly competitive lineup. His teammate, Craig DeLong, put on an impressive showing to finish atop the XC2 Pro Lites podium at the season opener.
In the XC1 Pro Class, Sipes got a great jump off the line aboard his Husqvarna FC350 and headed into the first turn with plenty of momentum. However, the 2015 ISDE Overall winner got tangled in first corner pileup, where he was forced to come from behind on the opening lap. Sipes pushed his way into the top five by the halfway point, where he engaged in an intense battle for the final podium position.
The final two laps of the three-hour race proved to be chaotic, as the top five riders shuffled back and forth. Sipes eventually settled into the fifth place position, where he ultimately finished in the overall running.
"I knew coming into the opening round that I was a little behind the eight ball as far as seat time, being comfortable on the bike and fitness," Sipes said. "I fell down a lot and picking up the bike takes a lot out of you. They weren't big crashes but I definitely was tired at the end of the race, I couldn't push or anything I was just out of energy. To feel like that and still get 5th, I'm okay with it. It's not where I want to be but I can build off of it and keep getting better as the season goes on."
In the XC2 Pro Lites Class, Pennsylvania's Craig DeLong powered his Husqvarna TC250 off the start to capture the $100 holeshot award and early lead. DeLong was engaged in a battle for the top position all afternoon, where he ultimately finished third in the class.
"It was nice to pull the holeshot and lead everyone into the woods. I tried to just keep a consistent pace and minimize my mistakes, which worked out well because I only had a few crashes on the day and got stuck in the mud hole once," DeLong said. "I'm happy to leave Florida healthy and ready for round two."
DeLong's teammate, Layne Michael, experienced a tough day at round one. Michael got off to a decent start aboard his Husqvarna FC250 and he charged his way toward the front of the pack. Unfortunately, Michael ran into a series of issues, including burying his bike in a mud hole and slamming into a tree, ultimately damaging his front wheel and forcing him to stop in the pits for repair. Michael salvaged a point with 20th place.
Next Event: Cannonball, Georgia - March 13, 2016
Results from the Wild Boar GNCC - Sunday, March 6
XC1 Pro Class Results
1. Josh Strang
2. Daniel Milner
3. Kailub Russell
4. Chris Bach
5. Ryan Sipes (HSQ)
XC2 Pro Lites Results
1. Trevor Bollinger
2. Tegan Temple
3. Craig Delong (HSQ)
XC1 Pro Championship Standings
1. Josh Strang (25)
2. Daniel Milner (22)
3. Kailub Russell (20)
4. Chris Bach (18)
5. Ryan Sipes (17)
XC2 Pro Lites Championship Standings
1. Trevor Bollinger (25)
2. Tegan Temple (22)
3. Craig Delong (20)