PAUL WHIBLEY, BACK ON THE LINE

Dirt Rider - - 2017 Ktm 250 Exc-f -

With all of the ar­range­ments made, Macdonald set about prep­ping a Yamaha YZ125 for the new XC3 class, which is for 125cc dis­place­ment ma­chines. Ac­cord­ing to Macdonald, the bike is ba­si­cally stock with an FMF pipe.

Whibley was a bit un­der the weather at the GNCC opener in South Carolina, but he still sol­diered on for a third­place fin­ish be­hind Jack Edmondson (the 19-year-old son of four-time World Enduro Cham­pion Paul Edmondson) and Ja­son Thomas. We met up with Whibley at the sec­ond round of the se­ries in Palatka, Florida, dur­ing Day­tona’s Speed Week, where he was feel­ing much bet­ter and rar­ing to go.

“Randy of­fered me the chance to help train Josh [Toth] and Ricky [Rus­sell] and to help out with the team, and it was an ex­cit­ing idea for me,” Whibley said. “It’s awe­some to come back over here and see all of my friends. That’s the big­gest part of it, to come back and be with my ‘Amer­i­can fam­ily.’ ”

Whibley told Dirt Rider he had spent very lit­tle time on a 125 over the years. Even as a kid grow­ing up he didn’t have a 125 but in­stead went straight from an XR100 to a CR250, miss­ing out on that whole “125 ex­pe­ri­ence.”

At 38 years old, Whibley was per­haps the old­est rider lined up for the XC3 class in Florida, but for sure he wasn’t the slow­est. At the start, the Kiwi of­froad star got off to a so-so start, still adapt­ing to the 125. “The heavy rain hit just as we started the race, and I went through all of my roll offs within the first few turns,” Whibley said. “I was strug­gling to keep the 125 on top of the deep sand, and I wasn’t re­ally ag­gres­sive as I needed to be.”

Head­ing into the fi­nal lap, Whibley was run­ning third but man­aged to catch and pass Thomas be­fore the fin­ish to grab sec­ond, about a minute and a half be­hind Edmondson.

“This was amaz­ing fun,” Whibley said. “It’s so cool to come here and race this se­ries without the pres­sure you nor­mally put on your­self when you are go­ing for a cham­pi­onship. I can’t thank Randy Hawkins enough for sup­port­ing me and all of the lead­er­ship he has pro­vided over the years.”

It was a solid start to the sea­son, with the plan to have Whibley ride the first three rounds be­fore re­turn­ing to New Zealand where he will con­tinue to pro­mote races and or­ga­nize his Yamaha demo rides as well as train­ing the Am­pro Yamaha team re­motely.

“I’m very thank­ful to Randy for the op­por­tu­nity to come back here and to be a part of the Am­pro Yamaha team once again and also to get to race, even though it was just for fun,” Whibley said. “It’s some­thing I will al­ways re­mem­ber.”

Whibs set­tled into a strong pace on the fi­nal lap and was able to catch and pass Ja­son

Thomas for sec­ond. WANT MORE Fol­low Paul Whibley on his web­site at paulwhib­ley.co.nz.

Randy Hawkins with Whibley’s three-year-old son Colton.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.