Pahiatua’s Paul Whibley has done it again.
The 35-year-old former Manawatu forestry worker, affectionately dubbed “The Axeman” on the motorcycling scene, has stormed to yet another comfortable win in the Off-road Motorcycle and ATV (OMA) series in the United States.
His win at the sixth round of eight in the competition in Plainview, Illinois, at the weekend made it five out of the half dozen rounds thus far that the flying Kiwi has topped the podium and he seems well on his way to reclaiming the OMA crown that he won for a remarkable five consecutive seasons between 2008 and 2012.
A series of injuries foiled his attempt to make it six OMA title wins in a row last season, but he has certainly bounced back with a vengeance in 2014.
Oppressive heat forced the organisers to reduce the race duration to 90 minutes (plus a lap), but the gruelling battle still took two hours after race leader Whibley came through the timing section at the end of lap six with one hour and 29 minutes showing on the clock, forcing him to complete another circulation of the brutal course.
Whibley seemed to have no problems with the searing heat and humidity, taking the holeshot at the start and leading all seven laps.
“Once into the woods after the start, I tried to go early and open up a gap,” Whibley explained.
“I didn’t want this to be a battle down to the wire in the heat. I think I had 40 sec on the first lap and was able to continue to pad that throughout the race. Jason Thomas ran in second early in the race but is still suffering from the crash at the last round in South Dakota and dropped back.”
Eventual runner-up, just over five minutes behind Whibley, was former OMA champion Jimmy Jarrett (KTM).
Another American, Adam Bonneur (KTM), completed the podium when he finished just 23 seconds behind Jarrett.
Fourth place overall went Yamaha’s Cody Bollinger who beat Mark Heresco (KTM) to the finish flag by just 1.5 seconds.
Whibley is supported by Yamaha Motor New Zealand, AmPro Yamaha, Monster Energy, Shoei, Sidi, Smith, MSR G2, Asterisk, Moto SR, Vortex Ignitions, EC3D, Bush Riders MCC, Spectro, Acerbis, DID, JT sprockets, Leatt, Kenda, Sargent Motorcycles, Yamaha NZ, Bikesportnz.com, Unibiker and Tire balls.
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
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