Lady Luck smiled on Kiwi Paul Whibley at the weekend, ensuring him another victory in the United States even though the odds were against him even finishing the race.
Whibley’s main focus in America is on winning the Grand National Cross-country Championships (GNCC) and the Off-road Motorcycle and ATV (OMA) competitions, but a gap in the calendar allowed the man from Pahiatua to take his Yamaha YZ450F and tackle a couple of lesser events, the Mid-East Cross-country Championships at Antioch speedway on Saturday and the North Carolina Hare Scramble Association (NCHSA) event on Sunday.
“Rain steadily fell as we rolled into Antioch speedway on Saturday morning but had cleared by the time our race started,” said Whibley.
“With the expected dust replaced by slick clay, I took it pretty easy on the first lap. I had got a good start and moved into the lead quickly but I was kept in check by the chasing pack. As we began the second lap I upped the pace as most of the slick spots were exposed and much of the track had started to tack up.
“Recent Yamaha convert and GNCC pro Chris Bach gave chase, although I slowly edged away during the two-hour event.
“Heading into the last lap I had a nice buffer but I was going to need it.
“Running my practice bike at this race I didn’t have my tire balls in and paid the price with a flat rear. I backed it down and nursed it through the last lap, worried that the tire would roll off the rim and my day would be done.
“Luckily it held together and I took the win.”
Sunday’s NCHSA event was held at Pilot Mountain near Morganton, North Carolina.
Extremely dry conditions and a short five mile track meant the start would play a critical role in the race.
“The start straight was all of about five metres long and I lined up right on the inside after drawing sixth pick of the line. It all worked out as I took the holeshot and had clean air to run in for the first lap or so until we start catching traffic.
“Chris Bach again gave chase and ran a strong pace until an off track excursion late in the event ended his day. I was left up front with a good lead to cruise home to the win.
“It was a good weekend’s racing and some good seat time ahead of the GNCC round in Indiana this coming weekend.”
Whibley leads the GNCC series after five rounds, a meagre three points ahead of main rival Kailub Russell, with defending champion Charlie Mullins another 11 points further back.
Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com