It has been an up-and-down season for Kiwi cross-country racing ace Paul Whibley, but it was very definitely an ‘up’ occasion for him in Winnesboro, South Carolina, at the weekend.
Whibley, the defending champion in the Grand National Cross-country Championships (GNCC) series in the United States this year, has been having a rough time of late, with his 2010 GNCC campaign striking a few problems, but it all came together for the man from Pahiatua at the Mid East Hare Scramble event at Winnesboro.
He took his Yamaha WR450F to a convincing win at the weekend, a timely confidence booster with the next round of the GNCC series just days away – set for Somerset, Pennsylvania, this weekend.
“I got a good start at Winnesboro and drove up the inside into second as we rounded the first turn,” said Whibley.
“I moved into lead quickly by jumping a creek and set off to try gap the field. The track was mostly single track and pretty dusty on the higher ground.
“Down near the creek, the soil was loamy, even sandy in a few sections. I opened up a good lead over Stewart Baylor and continued to push as the laps ticked by.
“The weather was pretty hot and humid with temperatures in the 90s. When I came in for gas, (my wife) Katherine looked pretty hot from running around in the sun. At least I had some air to cool me as I raced around.
“With short laps and dusty, tight conditions, traffic was busy. Most riders were pretty good and were quick to move over and let the faster riders through. Although like always there are the few that want to race and make you work for the pass. On a tight track it’s hard to go two wide on single track, so apologies to those that my tyres left marks on.
“After two hours the flag came out. It was a good fun track and was great training in the heat and humidity.”
Whibley now readies himself for the seventh round of 13 in the GNCC series in Pennsylvania. He is currently running third overall in the championship, 44 points behind leader Josh Strang and 25 points adrift of his own Yamaha team-mate Charlie Mullins.
RESULTS from the Mid East Hare Scramble race at the weekend:
1st: Paul Whibley
2nd: Stewart Baylor
3rd: Matthew Nix
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com