New Zealand motorcycle ace Paul ‘The Axeman’ Whibley has taken another huge step closer towards securing the Grand National Cross Country Championships title in the United States this season.
The 34-year-old former Manawatu forestry worker from Pahiatua, finished runner-up at the tenth round of 13 in the GNCC championship at Unadilla, near New York, on Monday (NZ time).
Raced winner was American Thad DuVall (Honda), the victory signalling his breakthrough first win of the competition.
The high-profile series had just completed its mid-summer break – temperatures being too hot on the American east coast during the summer months — and Whibley showed he was well prepared for the resumption at the weekend as he powered to yet another podium finish in what he hopes will see him reclaim the US championship title he last held in 2009.
“Thad and I were battling at the end and I broke my front brake lever on the last lap,” Whibley said.
“There was no way I could keep up with Thad after that, he was riding really good, so I just chose to back it down and try to ride with him and make sure to get some good points. Second is not what I was wanting but we’ll take it.”
Whibley (Yamaha YZ450F) has only missed a podium finish once all season — that still being a solid fourth placing at round eight of the series at Snowshoe in West Virginia in June — enabling him to now build a seven-point lead over his nearest rival for the crown, American rider Kailub Russell.
Russell finished fourth on Monday.
Another Kiwi, 2011 New Zealand enduro champion Rory Mead, from Wellington, finished ninth overall on Monday but he maintains his hold on third overall in the XC1 Pro Championship standings.
Meanwhile, Pahiatua youngster Scott Sowry (Yamaha YZ125) was making his GNCC debut and riding in the under-200cc A class, but, tragically, a high-speed crash left him with a broken femur.
He was credited with 298th overall and a surprisingly respectable 33rd overall in his class.
The next round of the series is set for St Clairsville, Ohio, on October 7.
Whibley is supported by Monster Energy, Sargent Yamaha in Masterton, MotoSR suspension, BikesportNZ.com, Graphic MX Creation and Yamaha New Zealand.
XC1 Pro Results from round 10 at Unadilla:
1. Thad DuVall (HON)
2. Paul Whibley (YAM)
3. Nathan Kanney (HON)
4. Kailub Russell (KTM)
5. Chris Bach (YAM)
6. Jordan Ashburn (YAM)
7. Charlie Mullins (KTM)
8. Jimmy Jarrett (HON)
9. Rory Mead (KTM)
10. Takeshi Koikeda (KTM)
11. Josh Cennamo (YAM)
12. Mark Fortner (BET)
13. Grant Maryott (YAM)
14. Garrett Edmisten (KAW)
XC1 Pro Class Championship standings after round 10:
1. Paul Whibley (253/3 wins)
2. Kailub Russell (240/4 wins)
3. Rory Mead (189/2 wins)
4. Thad DuVall (168/1 win)
5. Jordan Ashburn (147)
6. Charlie Mullins (143)
7. Chris Bach (139)
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com