Whibley kicks off season as he means to go on
January 23, 2014: Pahiatua’s Paul Whibley Is Refreshed, Relaxed And Enjoying Himself ... Oh, And He’s Still Winning Off-Road Dirt Bike Races.
The 35-year-old former Manawatu forestry worker, a two-time former United States Grand National Cross-country Champion (GNCC), is home from his South Carolina base for a prolonged break as he and his wife Katherine await the birth of their first child, due next month.
But there’s no sitting about the house for the man the dirt bike community affectionately refers to as “The Axeman”.
Whibley took his Sargents BikesportNZ.com Yamaha YZ450F into action at the weekend, winning round three of the Pahiatua Bush Riders Motorcycle Club’s cross-country championship at Alfredton, near Eketahuna.
“Lining up on a ridge for the drop-off, downhill start, strong winds buffeted the riders, making it very difficult to hold the bikes up and even harder to hear the shotgun blast (that signalled the start),” Whibley explained.
“I was barely ready when the gun went off and I’m sure there was some kind of delay in the sound getting to me, as I could see bikes to my left already moving before I heard the shot. Anyway, no holeshot for me, but I got around turn one in the top five.
“After a couple of creek crossings and within a few kilometres, I had moved into the lead.
“I pulled a little gap but was riding pretty easy as there were a few slick spots in the grass that hid some old ruts and bumps. Mid lap I missed a turn and temporarily lost the track. Finding the arrows again on a downhill ridge I slotted in just in front of local rider Daniel Christie.
“Daniel knew the track pretty well, being the family farm and it took a while to shake him. A nice pine section allowed me to grow a lead again. Woodville’s Charles Alabaster moved into second and kept the pressure on. He was only about 30 seconds behind at the fuel stop. I lifted the pace a little and gave myself a little more breathing room in the second half of the race, finishing out the race almost two minutes ahead of Charles, with Daniel still holding down third.
“The track turned out to be a lot of fun, with some pine trees and a cool section down a rocky creek bed through a gorge. The track layout kept riders off most of the ridge tops and so the strong wind wasn’t a problem in the end.”
Whibley is entered for the crowd-pleasing River race at the New Zealand Motocross Grand Prix at Woodville this weekend as he continues to build up for the start of the 2014 GNCC season in the US.
He is booked to fly back to the US at the end of next month.
Whibley is supported by Yamaha Motor New Zealand, AmPro Yamaha, Monster Energy, Shoei, Sidi, Smith, MSR G2, Asterisk, Moto SR, Vortex Ignitions, EC3D, Bush Riders MCC, Spectro, Acerbis, DID, JT sprockets, Leatt, Kenda, Sargent Motorcycles, Yamaha NZ, Bikesportnz.com, Unibiker and Tire balls.