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Whibley Cherry-Picks To Create The Best


APRIL 10, 2015: He is one of the best off-road bike racers in the world and now Paul Whibley is hoping to create one of the best off-road racing competitions here at home.

The Pahiatua man recently returned to settle back in New Zealand after a successful 12-year stint of racing motorcycles off-road in Europe and the United States and he immediately went to work try to re-established his position at the top of the sport in New Zealand, taking his Yamaha YZ450F to compete in major enduro and cross-country events over the past few months.

Although the Yamaha man personally tasted success at these events, he said he was not completely satisfied with some aspects and so now he wants to take his involvement a step further, at the same time lifting the quality of competition and putting processes in place that might assist young Kiwi riders who wish to follow in his wheel track overseas.

With that in mind he is about to launch his own five-round NZXC series, starting at Tar Hill, near Tokoroa, on June 14.

Whibley intends that this season's inaugural NZXC series will amalgamate some of the sport's most popular events into what he hopes will become a premier series.

He makes no apologies for the fact that he is "cherry-picking" the best events from other series already happening around the country, co-sanctioning his inaugural NZXC with The Dirt Guide Series, the NZ GNCC, the Woodhill Two-Man, The Central Cross-country Series and the Yamaha Taikorea 500.

"They will be fun and flowing tracks, professional marked and well run," said Whibley.

He said the best four out of five rounds would count with contestants discarding their one worst score.

"My intention was not to simply add more events to the calendar, but to use some that are already there and combine them into something different. I've chosen the best of the bunch and called it the NZXC series.

"I'm looking at what younger guys need for when they venture overseas and some of the events in New Zealand are not really preparing them for what they'll face.

"For instance, we will run the annual stand-alone Yamaha Taikorea 500, earlier in the year, to help avoid dust issues.

"Racing over farmland is not really the same thing as riders will hit when they get to America or Europe. Forestry courses more accurately reflect what they will strike," said Whibley.

"We need to run events that have courses laid out in a clover shape, looping the tracks out and back to a central location multiple times, rather than just send them off 40 kilometres into the wild blue yonder. It's a safety issue, as much as anything, reducing the response time for medics to reach a fallen rider.

"It also means spectators are catered for much better. They will get to see the action a little more frequently."

The five-round NZXC series kicks off at Tar Hill, near Tokoroa, on June 14, with the final round set for Castlehill, near Pahiatua, on December 5.

Whibley is supported by Yamaha Motor New Zealand, Freedom Moto Yamaha, 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,, Unibiker and Tire balls.

2015 NZXC schedule:

Round 1: June Tar Hill, Tokoroa, June 14 (part of the Dirt Guide Series)

Round 2: Taikorea, Palmerston North, July 18 (the stand-alone Yamaha Taikorea 500)

Round 3: Woodhill, Auckland, August 30 (part of the Woodhill Two-man Series)

Round 4: Maddix Park, Tauranga, November 14 (part of the NZ GNCC Series)

Round 5: Castlehill, Pahiatua, December 5 (part of the Central CC Series)

Words and photo by Andy McGechan,