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Whibely Now Nearly Unbeatable‏

 

AUGUST 10, 2015: Pahiatua's Paul Whibley has now strengthened his grip on the annual Dirt Guide Cross-country Series from firm to vice-like after the weekend's second round of four near a chilly Atiamuri on Sunday.

The 37-year-old New Zealand cross country champion has now made it back-to-back wins in the series and, with points from only three of the four rounds to be counted as riders discard their worst result, the Yamaha rider is close to being unbeatable.

Whibley (Yamaha YZ450F), who is also a two-time former Grand National Cross-country Champion in the United States, led Wellington's seven-time former national moto trials champion Jake Whitaker across the finish line of the two-hour race, with Coatesville's Sam Greenslade claiming third place overall.

Whibley was eventually the only rider to complete six laps after coming into the timing zone at the end of lap five with time still left on the clock.

"Driving through snow on the way to a race is never very inviting," said Whibley, commenting on the cold snap that hit the North Island at the weekend.

"Once at the venue, the skies seemed to clear and the sun had even made an appearance before the start of the race. There were a few puddles in low spots, but the majority of the track was in great shape.

"I grabbed the holeshot and led the way. I was being pretty careful in some of the puddles as the odd one was a lot deeper than it looked and, even though the sun was out, the air was still chilly. I didn't feel like being soaking wet for the rest of the day.

"The second lap I still hadn't really warmed up with cold fingers and tight arms. I had built a lead of nearly a minute during lap one and this didn't help as I was riding too carefully to really warm up."

With Whibley dropping off the pace slightly, it enabled his pursuers to close in on his rear wheel.

"I was caught by Sam Greenslade and Jake Whitaker at the end of the third lap. These guys were riding good and pushing hard," he said.

"It is hard to keep the intensity up when you're on your own, but once they caught me up I got all excited again.

"This wake-up call was just what I needed and a little boost in adrenaline kicked in and the following lap I upped the pace to re-established my lead. I kept a solid pace going for the remainder of the event to take the win.

"The track developed some awesome lines and was a lot of fun. If anyone ever wanted to get a hint of a United States GNCC event is like, then these Dirt Guide events are the probably the closest thing we currently have here in New Zealand."

The third round of the series is set for a fresh venue near Atiamuri on September 6, with the fourth and final round due at Tar Hill, just south of Tokoroa, on October 4.

Whibley leads the series by eight points from Whitaker, who has finished 3-2 in the series thus far, while Mokau's four-time former national cross-country champion Adrian Smith (Yamaha YZ250FX) is third overall in the series standings. Smith has twice finished fourth.

Te Awamutu's Daniel White won the 90-minute junior race held earlier in the day, leading home Oparau's James Scott and Hamilton's Lachlan Bishop, while Taupo's Will Yeoman won the race for mini riders, with Oparau's Bree Scott and Rotorua's Daniel Bates rounding out the podium.

Whibley is supported by Yamaha Motor New Zealand, Freedom Moto Yamaha, Sidi, Smith, G2, Asterisk, MotoSR, Vortex Ignitions, EC3D, Bush Riders MCC, HJC, DID, JT sprockets, Vesrah, Rossco's Start Up Services, Works Connection, Pro Taper, Race Pace Services, Unabiker, Leatt Brace, Tire Balls, BikesportNZ.com, CarbSport, Kettle Clamp, Alliance Offroad, MotoSeat, FMF, Kenda, Yamalube, CV4, GYTR, IMS, MSR, Rekluse, Twin Air, Wiseco, Ride Eng and Workshop Graphics.

Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com