Whibley back to a winning habit

By Andy McGechan


Pahiatua's Paul Whibley has been in high demand since returning home from his stellar season of winning cross-country races in the United States.

The 34-year-old former Manawatu forestry worker, affectionately dubbed 'The Axeman' on the motorcycling scene, won the Grand National Cross-Country (GNCC) and Off-road Motorcycle and ATV (OMA) titles in the US in 2012 and returned home to organise and run the first cross-country event of his own making, the inaugural Yamaha Taikorea 500.

He didn't ride the Taikorea event, which took place just after Christmas, leaving it to fellow Yamaha rider Cam Smith, of Marton, to take the glory instead, but it was time to get back into the saddle at the weekend as he joined Smith to race the Crazy Cross and Root 100 events in Northland.

"Cam Smith asked if I was up for a trip to 'The Farm' for their annual event," said Whibley.

"An unusual format over the two days of racing kept everyone on their toes and the challenging layout of the tracks ensured we all got our money's worth.

"Day one was the Crazy Cross - basically an enduro-cross track combined with a super fun motocross track and some cross-country sections. A clean sweep of the qualifying races saw me safely into the final. From the dead engine start, I holeshot and led the charge down the hill into the enduro-cross track.

"Jumping the firewood pit and then the tyre pit opened a gap quickly. The motocross section had dried a lot, but the fun factor was still there with some nice jumps.

"After completing the cross-country section, we came back to complete the rest of the enduro-cross track.

"After four laps, I took the chequered flag with Auckland's Chris Power not too far behind on his Yamaha WR450, and with Hokianga's Mitchell Nield hot on his heels.

"Day two involved a 20-odd kilometre lap, taking around 45 minutes to complete. Six individually-timed laps was the race duration with a set window of time to complete the laps.

"I laid down the fastest lap of the day to claim that prize, along with some consistent laps to keep me in front of the overall classification."

For the Root 100, Whibley (Yamaha YZ450F) finished ahead of Nield and Raetihi's Phillip Cheater.


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