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Whibley Wraps Up Season On the Podium


Whibley Wraps Up Season On the Podium

OCTOBER 30, 2013: Pahiatua’s Paul Whibley ended his international season on the podium at the weekend and now looks forward to a break back in New Zealand before returning to the United States to do it all over again in 2014.

The 34-year-old US No.1 took his Yamaha YZ450F to finish third overall at the 13th and final round of the Grand National Cross-country Championships at Crawfordsville, Indiana, at the weekend, the soon-to-be-dad finally putting to bed a season that had promised so much but never really delivered.

The 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 GNCC and the Off-Road Motorcycle and ATV (OMA) crown as well, although his 2013 campaign to defend both titles struck problems early on.

Injured in a training crash just before round three of the series back in April, his winning momentum was disrupted and he slipped down the rankings.

The Yamaha star then opted out of the series for rounds 10 and 11 in September as he underwent surgery to repair a sports hernia, and that effectively ruined any dreams he might have had of finishing on top this season.

Regardless of his setbacks this season, the brave Kiwi fought on and finished among the top 10 on 10 separate occasions during the year, his third place overall at the weekend’s final round earning him a Pro XC1 class championship ranking of No.7, but an overall championships ranking of No.5 for 2013.

“This is the premier off-road racing series in the world, everyone dreams about coming to GNCC and for me to come over here and win championships and get podium finishes is awesome,” Whibley said.

“I’m just happy to be over here racing these guys and to come back and have two podiums at the end of the season is a good way to end it and I’m looking forward to the 2014 season.”

Just two points separated Americans Kailub Russell and Charlie Mullins in the national championship standings at the start of the weekend and when Russell was able to overcome a 15-second penalty for a starting infringement and snatch the lead at the end of lap one, the writing was on the wall.

Russell was able to maintain his lead and finish 36 seconds ahead of Mullins to claim his first career XC1 Overall National Championship.

Meanwhile, fellow New Zealander Rory Mead also came on strong at the weekend.

The Wellington rider, who won the New Zealand enduro championships for Yamaha in 2011, finished fourth overall, good enough for him to finish 13th overall for 2013.

Whibley is supported by Monster Energy, Sargent Yamaha in Carterton, MotoSR suspension, BikesportNZ.com, Graphic MX Creation and Yamaha Motor New Zealand.

Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com

ENDS

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