Motocross event double-header
Tokoroa tracks have served former Kiwi international Paul Whibley well.
He had to have his arm twisted to enter the first round of his own NZXC cross-country series at the weekend, but really it was just too much fun for him to ignore.
The opening round of the popular annual Dirt Guide Cross- country Series was run in conjunction with the first round of the inaugural NZXC series at Tar Hill, just south of Tokoroa, on Sunday, and so it was a double-header of sorts with points from the one race being earned in two separate competitions.
This was only time the two series will merge this season – round two of the NZXC series is set for Taikorea, near Palmerston North, on July 18 and round two of the Dirt Guide Series is set for Ohakuri, near Tokoroa, on August 9 – although many riders have indicated they will tackle both competitions.
Pahiatua’s Whibley (Yamaha YZ450F) won the two-hour senior race at Tar Hill on Sunday and Taupo’s Wyatt Chase (Yamaha YZ125) won the 90- minute junior race staged a little earlier in the day, making it a Yamaha sweep for the day.
Whibley said it was really a lastminute decision for him to race on Sunday, Dirt Guide series organiser Sean Clarke twisting his arm to show up and ride.
‘‘The NZXC series is for others to enjoy. So I didn’t come here today to poach points from other riders; I just came here to enjoy myself and I won’t be racing at round two anyway because I’ll be too busy organising things.
‘‘In saying that, though, I would like to be a contender to win the separate Dirt Guide Series. I wouldn’t feel guilty if I won that,’’ he laughed.
‘‘The course that Sean [Clarke] set out today was great, just what the cross-country nationals should be like.
‘‘There were plenty of fast bits and also plenty of flowing stuff through the trees and lots of bumps and ruts. A bit of everything really.
‘‘ I wasn’t sure if anyone had passed me while I was refuelling in the pits because I was on my lonesome today and wasn’t getting any pit signals from my usual crew, my wife Katherine. So I just kept up a good, steady pace. I didn’t want to ride too hard and I didn’t want to slacken off either. It’s a fine line really, but I couldn’t hear anyone behind me.’’
Whibley was the only rider required to complete a sixth lap of the forestry course, because the two hours had not elapsed when he came through the timing zone after lap five. But he was already about three minutes ahead of the eventual runner-up, Howick motocross and enduro ace Liam Draper, before he started that final lap.
Wellington’s seven- time former national moto trials champion Jake Whitaker rounded out the podium, crossing the line 20 seconds behind Draper.
Meanwhile, Chase finished the junior race two minutes and 43 seconds ahead of Oparau’s James Scott.
Paul Whibley (Yamaha) has again shown the class that made him an international star in the sport over many years of racing in Europe and the United States.