With the American Off-Road Motorcycle and ATV (OMA) series title in the bag for a fourth consecutive season, the pressure was off for champion Paul Whibley.
But the Kiwi Yamaha ace still has work to do this season – Like winning the parallel Grand National Cross-country Championships (GNCC) – and so winning the latest round of the OMA series at Medora, Indiana, the weekend was very much the plan.
Pahiatua’s Whibley did not disappoint, taking his Yamaha YZ450F to Indiana to race round nine of the OMA series at the weekend and coming away with another convincing victory.
“A good start would be important in the dry and dusty conditions,” said Whibley.
“I got a good jump off the line but my team-mate Jordan Ashburn and newly-crowned US enduro champ Russell Bobbitt pushed their two-strokes up inside me and took the leading positions.
“Jordan was able to open up a 15-second lead over the early laps while I battled Bobbitt and Jimmy Jarrett before settling into second and the mission to chase down my team-mate.
“I picked my spots carefully and managed to close in on Jordan on a few of the not too dusty sections. The lap before we gassed I managed to out-power Jordan up one of the step and powdery hill climbs.
“After (my Kiwi mechanic) Scotty Brooker and (my wife) Katherine had me in and out of the pits in no time, I got pit boards that I now had a two-minute lead.
“After the gas stop, Jordan had to stop and change his air filter on the YZ250 after it began to clog. I was able to ride out the second hour safely and avoid some of the powdery berms, although the air filter location on the YZ450F keeps the filter pretty clean.
“I took a comfortable win with the battle for second going down to the wire with Jordan holding off Scott Watkins and Russell Bobbitt.
“Upon taking the win I was greeted with a Haka (traditional Maori challenge/dance) from a friend who came over from New Zealand. We actually had a large contingent of Kiwis at the race with several borrowing bikes to compete in the Saturday fun race and the morning races.
“Katherine even gave the fun race a shot and completed a tough track with some steep hills on her little TTR 125.”
1. Paul Whibley (Yamaha)
2. Jordan Ashburn (Yamaha)
3. Scott Watkins (Honda)
4. Russell Bobbitt (KTM)
5. Morgan Moss (Yamaha)
6. Adam Bonneur (Kawasaki)
7. Shane Klimek (Suzuki)
8. Michael Williams (Kawasaki)
9. Kyleer Vance (Husqvarna)
10. Derek Spangler (Yamaha)
© Photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com