Taikorea’s Paul Whibley has enjoyed an international motorcycle racing career that many professional riders could only ever dream of.
And, now, as he heads down a different career pathway, working as a professional team coach, he can take it or leave it in terms of what events he might tackle, if any.
The 38-year-old former pro racer, affectionately dubbed “The Axeman” on the motorcycling scene, was a two-time outright winner of the Grand National Cross-country Championships (GNCC) in the United States (in 2009 and 2012) and a record six-time winner of the parallel Off-Road Motorcycle and ATV (OMA) series as well, but he spends his time these days being a dad and acting as mentor and trainer for the AmPro Yamaha Racing Team in the US.
Of course, when the opportunity presents itself for him to also enter the occasional race, he’s not one to turn down the chance.
Whibley took a Yamaha YZ125 to race in the XC3 class at the latest round of the GNCC series, the third round of 13 at Sparta, in Georgia, on the east coast of the US.
“I got a great jump of the line and moved through the gears smoothly to take the holeshot on the YZ125,” Whibley reported.
“The track was dry and hard after the earlier races there. There were a lot of exposed roots and some single track that required constant attention if you were to catch the many lines that would open up.
“On the first lap I rode tight and Jack Edmondson and Jason Thomas came by. I tried to follow but the arm pump quickly put a stop to that.”
In the end, the man from the Manawatu settled for a very respectable 19th overall against the 300cc and 450cc riders, and third in the XC3 (125cc) class, behind Edmondson and Thomas.
“I was able to put in some good laps late in the race but otherwise a pretty lonely race for third. It was still fun, though, and I was stoked for the chance to be back on a bike.
“I want to thank the AmPro Yamaha team and all its sponsors for supporting me.”
Whibley has managed to race in all three rounds thus far and he is third overall in the XC3 class championship standings.
Whibley is also supported by Yamaha Motor New Zealand, Arai, TCX, Oakley, G2, Asterisk, MotoSR, Vortex Ignitions, EC3D, Bush Riders MCC, Rossco’s Start Up Services, Unabiker, Leatt Brace, Tire Balls, Renthal, Bikesportnz.com, CarbSport, KettleClamp, Alliance Offroad, Ride Eng MotoSeat, FMF, Michelin, Yamalube CV4 GYTR, IMS O’Neal, Rekluse, Workshop Graphics and Silverbullet.co.nz
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
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