The 41-year-old former Manawatu forestry worker, affectionately dubbed “The Axeman” on the motorcycling scene, was a two-time outright winner of the Grand National Cross-country Championships (GNCC) in the United States (in 2009 and 2012) and a record six-time winner of the parallel Off-Road Motorcycle and ATV (OMA) series as well.
And when he finished his GNCC campaigning at the end of the 2014 season, he returned home to win the New Zealand cross-country championships in 2015 and to set up his own domestics series, originally called the NZXC Series, but then rebranded this year to be named the NZ GNCC.
And this Sunday it is the fifth and final round of the 2019 edition of the NZ GNCC, in the Riverhead Forest, west of Auckland.
Tomorrow’s race doubles up also as the stand-alone Dead Toad Cross-country Race and observers can expect to see key riders such as Howick’s Liam Draper, Whanganui’s Seth Reardon, Cambridge’s Ashton Grey, Tokoroa’s Jake Wightman and Eketahuna’s Charlie Richardson battling for top honours.
Last year’s NZXC/NZGNCC series winner, Titirangi’s Callan May, could also be fancied to pull off a race win on Sunday, as could Cambridge’s Dylan Yearbury or Helensville’s Tom Buxton.
There are two races on Sunday – Juniors, aged from 7-15 years, race for 90 minutes, starting at 9am. Seniors and Vets have their two-hour race starting at about 11.30am.
The NZ GNCC Series piggy-backs onto other popular series around New Zealand, Whibley “cherry-picking” from what he believes are the best cross-country competitions available, hence last weekend’s Dirt Guide Series final round at Tokoroa was also registered as NZ GNCC round four and this weekend’s Dead Toad XC event is also the NZ GNCC final.
“Since its inception, the goal of the series was to provide quality events aligned into a series that would provide a breeding ground for future champions in New Zealand and, more specifically, internationally,” said Whibley.
“The series has been well supported and I think the concept we run under now is well understood and accepted.
“We have chosen what we feel are the best tracks and best venues to form this series.”
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com
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2019 NZ GNCC CALENDAR:
Rnd 1: July 28 (in conjunction with Woodhill Two-Man)
Rnd 2: August 24 (in conjunction with Tokoroa Dirt Guide)
Rnd 3: September 29 (Taikorea 500)
Rnd 4: November 9 (Matata)
Rnd 5: December 1 (in conjunction with Dead Toad XC race)