Whibley Captures Solid Points
Whibley Captures Solid Points
By Andy McGechan
MARCH 19, 2013: Paul Whibley has his fingers crossed that his title defence in the United States is just beginning to gather momentum as he scooped up more valuable points at the weekend.
The 34-year-old former Manawatu forestry worker, affectionately dubbed “The Axeman” on the motorcycling scene, won two major cross-country titles in the US last season, clinching the Grand National Cross-country Championships (GNCC) and the Off-Road Motorcycle and ATV (OMA) crown as well.
However, the Yamaha ace from Pahiatua was disappointed to finish only fourth overall when his GNCC title defence kicked off in Florida a week ago, and it was further cause for disappointment at the weekend when he crossed the finish line in an unaccustomed sixth position at round two in Georgia.
But the series is a long and exhausting one, with 11 more rounds to go before it wraps up in Indiana in October, so it is still early days in the title chase.
“The racing at round two started well for me as I again grabbed the holeshot before we headed into the woods,” said Whibley.
“The track was in good shape and the morning race seemed to have opened up some nice lines. I was feeling good up front, ready to make amends for the poor start to the season in Florida. However, crossing a little muddy creek that was filled with ruts, I hit a hidden root and tipped over, dropping back to fourth spot.
“I recovered quickly and slotted in behind my team-mate, Jordan Ashburn, determined not to let the leaders out of sight
“I pushed hard to make a pass stick on Jordan and regained contact with (Australian) Josh Strang and (American) Charlie Mullins, who was leading.
“But I was forced to pay a heavy price for pushing too hard and the muscles in my arms started to pump up. I tried to relax and just follow Josh (Strang), but it’s hard to ride fast and loosen up at the same time.
“After a lap trying to hold on, I had to back off and try let my arm pump reside, surrendering a few positions. I dropped back and had Jordan and Japanese rider Takashi Koikeda on my tail.
“After the first gas stop I began to loosen up and started to distance myself from Takashi and Jordan. I felt like I was riding well and expected to begin eating into the gap to the riders in front. But I had lost a lot of time with the arm pump and, by the time we stopped for the second fuel stop, I realised I still hadn’t made up any significant time.
“Crossing the line in sixth place I was pretty disappointed. I have some work to do to get back onto the box by the third round.”
Meanwhile, fellow New Zealander Rory Mead also had a difficult time at the weekend.
The Wellington rider, who won the New Zealand enduro championships for Yamaha in 2011, finished 85th overall, but this was good enough for 12th overall in the Pro XC1 class.
The next round is set for Steel Creek, North Carolina, on April 6-7.
supported by Monster Energy, Sargent Yamaha in Masterton,
MotoSR suspension, BikesportNZ.com, Graphic MX Creation and
Yamaha Motor New