Perhaps Taikorea’s Paul Whibley is twice as good as anyone else on the Kiwi cross-country motorcycling scene.
The 36-year-old former Kiwi international, now settled back in New Zealand after a 12-year career racing in Europe and the United States, has been quick to put to the sword any of his opponents in the domestic cross-country environment.
The Yamaha rider won the four-round New Zealand Cross-country Championships when they wrapped up in May and won the opening round of the Dirt Guide Cross-country Championships in June.
At the weekend he turned his attentions to tackling Sunday’s second round of four in the Woodhill Two-man Cross Country series, riding solo on his Yamaha YZ450F against elite two-rider entries from throughout New Zealand.
Round one of the Woodhill Two-man series was run three weeks ago and Whibley was unable to take part on that occasion, but he more than made up for that by dominating the race on Sunday.
“It was a fun race and a cool track,” said Whibley, who eventually crossed the finish line in the three-hour race more than two minutes ahead of the pairing of experienced enduro riders Chris Birch and Jason Davis.
Third overall was Waimauku’s Jake Wightman, who was also riding solo for the duration, the talented 15-year-old finishing the gruelling race more than eight minutes behind the Birch-Davis team-mates.
Also riding solo, Wightman’s younger brother, 12-year-old Nick Wightman, won the two-hour junior race earlier in the day.
“The course through the forest was a lot of fun, but it was tricky too because there were fresh tree stumps everywhere. I just put the hammer down where I could,” Whibley explained.
“I didn’t have any idea how close my challengers were. All I knew was that I was in front and had to keep up a good pace to keep them behind me.
“There was a bit of steady drizzle throughout the day and that caused a few problems with vision, but the bike ran perfectly and I didn’t have any real problems.
“I will race the rest of this series. I think riders can discard their worst result from the series, so I still have a chance of winning it overall.”
Round three of the Woodhill Two-man Series at the end of August will double also as the third round of his own competition that he created this season, the inaugural NZXC series.
“I want to win again at Woodhill, but I don’t intend to be serious at all about winning my own series. Besides, I sat out of round two of that (at Taikorea, near Palmerston North, a fortnight ago) because I was too busy organising things on the day and I’ll miss another of the NZXC rounds coming up, for the same reason.
“I didn’t create the NZXC series to be something for me to win myself. It’s for others to enjoy.”
Whibley is supported by Yamaha Motor New Zealand, Freedom Moto Yamaha, MotoSR, Monster Energy, Shoei, Sidi, Smith, MSR G2, Asterisk, Moto SR, Vortex Ignitions, EC3D, Bush Riders MCC, Spectro, Acerbis, DID, JT sprockets, Leatt, Kenda, Yamaha NZ, BikesportNZ.com, Unibiker and Tire Balls.
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
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