Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Craig DeLong earned a solid podium finish on Sunday for Round 3 of the 2021 Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) Series in Washington, Georgia. The defending XC2 250 Pro Champion fought hard throughout the three-hour race to continue his fight for a title defense this season.
DeLong grabbed a top-five start in the XC2 250 Pro class and he slowly worked his way into third by lap three. Maintaining a solid pace through the first half of the race, DeLong kept himself in contention for the lead battle but he lost substantial time after his pit stop and dropped out of reach heading into the last half of the three-hour battle. He kept his head up and charged through the final laps to ultimately to secure a podium finish, where he maintains a close second-place spot in the championship standings.
“I knew I was going to need to ride their pace early on but I lost a little bit of time on that first lap,” DeLong said. “I maintained a 20-30 second gap for the next two laps and then when we pitted, they must have turned it up and I must have gone slower. I have some things to work on for the next two weeks so hopefully some positive stuff comes out of that and we’re looking forward to Camp Coker.”
Team rider Trevor Bollinger returned to the XC1 Open Pro lineup for the first time this season after recovering from a second knee surgery during the offseason. He got off to a good start but dropped back on the opening lap to begin his charge from the 10th place position. He diced back-and-forth around the top-10 throughout the afternoon, making his way as high up as eighth-place on lap five. With two laps to go, Bollinger dropped back a few spots but he held strong to finish a respectable 11th in his first race back this season.
“I was definitely a little rusty, I haven’t raced in a year other than one race,” Bollinger said. “I actually got a decent start and just fell back at the beginning. I’m just happy that I made it through healthy and I’m looking forward to the next round.”
Thad DuVall missed the third round as he continues to recover from multiple injuries sustained in a big crash at the opening round of the U.S. Sprint Enduro Championship. DuVall plans to return to racing as soon as he can.
Next Round: Society Hill, South Carolina – March 28, 2021
The General GNCC Results
XC2 250 Pro Class
1. Jonathan Girroir (GAS)
2. Mike Witkowski (YAM)
3. Craig DeLong – Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing Team
XC1 Open Pro Class
1. Steward Baylor Jr. (YAM)
2. Ben Kelley (KTM)
3. Josh Toth (KTM)
11. Trevor Bollinger – Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing Team
2021 Championship Standings – After Round 3 of 13
XC2 250 Pro Class Championship Standings
1. Jonathan Girroir – 75 points
2. Craig DeLong – Rockstar Energy Factory Racing Team – 71 points
3. Mike Witkowski – 69 points