PAUL WHIBLEY, BACK ON THE LINE
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.