Taikorea’s Paul Whibley celebrated another win at the weekend and this time it was one that he had been planning to achieve.
Unlike his unexpected outright win of the inaugural NZXC series last week – a series he had created and therefore gone out of his way to try and not win, but had done so “accidentally” when the main contenders had failed to take advantage of his absence at the final round – last weekend’s New Zealand Grand National Cross-country Championships (NZ GNCC) event in the Maramarua Forest was definitely on his radar.
The 37-year-old Manawatu man, crowned national cross-country champion earlier this season, took his Freedom Moto Yamaha YZ450F to Saturday’s three-hour race, the third round of four in the series, with high hopes and expectations after he had also won the two earlier rounds of the competition in October and November.
“Rain was forecast, but, by the start nothing, had fallen, so it was looking to be a dusty event.
“Fortunately, I took the lead from the start and had a clear track. Conditions were pretty hard park and the trail was pretty fast, probably a little too fast. Local rider Jacob Brown used track knowledge to keep me in sight for the first couple of laps.
“Light rain moved through areas of the track turning the hard pack clay to ice. One area in particular had a decent shower of rain and sections became very difficult. With the soil so hard, it offered no bite for the tires. With the change in conditions lap times ballooned out several minutes.
“I started to edge away as I learned the track but it was a fine line between pushing hard and pushing too hard. Evidence of this was the increasing amount of skid marks that went straight ahead on some of the slick corners.
“It was a harsh mix for tyres, with the fast gravel road sections tearing at knobs then asking rounded knobs to find traction for the 450cc bike on the slick clay. The Kenda tyres were up to the job though and kept me upright and moving forward.
“I completed the six laps without any major mishaps to claim the win.”
Te Kauwhata’s Brown finished runner-up, with Morrinsville’s Nathan Tesselaar filling out the podium. Cambridge’s Ashton Grey and Rotorua’s Bradley Lauder rounded out the top five.
The 90-minute junior race earlier in the day was won by Huntly’s Daniel Broughton, with Auckland’s Nick Wightman and Napier’s Bryn Codd making up the podium.
The fourth and final round of the NZ GNCC series is set for Awapai Station, Hastings, on January 30.
Whibley is supported by Yamaha Motor New Zealand, Sidi, Smith, G2, Asterisk, MotoSR, Vortex Ignitions, EC3D, Bush Riders MCC, Darbi Accessories, GHQ, Freedom Moto, Rosscos Start Up Services, Works Connection, Pro Taper, Race Pace Services, Unabiker, Leatt Brace, Tire Balls, BikesportNZ.com, CarbSport, KettleClamp, Alliance Offroad, Ride Eng MotoSeat, FMF, Kenda, Yamalube, CV4, GYTR, IMS, MSR, Rekluse, Ride Eng, Workshop Graphics.
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
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