Whibley wins again at Michigan OMA
Paul Whibley took his second series win of the year and in a row, moving up in points to second as the series hit the halfway point. He’s now mounted on a YZ450F.
By: Mark Kariya
Photography By: Mark Kariya
Two-time and defending series champion Paul Whibley put on a powerful show of force to win the DP Brakes Wolverine Cross-Country National, round five of the Parts Unlimited Off-Road Motorcycle and ATV Nationals, July 11. Held at the Twisted Trails Offroad Park outside of Mesick, Michigan, the Am-Pro/FMF Yamaha racer recovered from a mediocre start to grab the lead after a little less than an hour and maintained it to the end. His victory vaulted him to second in series points and is now just three points behind JG Off-Road/GEICO Powersports/Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Scott Watkins, who was second on the day. Husaberg’s Nick Fahringer came off his injury-forced three-week layoff to claim the third step on the podium.
Fahringer’s riding sabbatical apparently made him antsy to get back on his FX 450, and he edged Jeremy Smith for the $200 K&N Filters Holeshot Award – the first time in his life he’d ever gotten a holeshot, he recalled.
After not riding or training for three weeks to let his broken toe heal more, Nick Fahringer was raring to go and ended up with the first holeshot of his life–earning the $200 K&N Filters Holeshot Award–and led the first lap before realizing that he was in no shape to maintain that pace. He settled for third.
But after leading a lap, he knew he couldn’t maintain that pace and let first Thad Duvall, then later Whibley and Watkins by. Duvall ended up losing lots of time fixing a clutch problem on his WR450F and would eventually a lap down, ninth in the Pro division.
Whibley would take the lead on the third time around the approximately eight-mile course. He built a cushion and easily kept it to the finish, completing seven laps in two hours, 24 minutes and 37 seconds with Watkins almost two minutes behind and Fahringer a distant but solid third.
‘It went good,’ Whibley said with a smile. ‘After picking my way through the field, I rode my own race so it was good.’
Unlike previous races this year, Whibley rode a YZ450F. ‘We’ve kind of got the go-ahead to start sort of development for racing them full-time next year,’ he revealed.
Scott Watkins ran his record of podium finishes this season to five in a row with his runner-up finish, though his series points lead is now just three with Whibley the new owner of second place, 117-114, unofficially.
Watkins reported, ‘He pulled a minute on me and then it just stayed that – it stayed right there, right around a minute, which was good; I was going the same pace as him, nice and consistent – and stalled my bike there with two laps to go. I kicked and kicked and kicked and finally got it going, but then that was it.’
Financial constraints have kept Aaron Wegner close to his Michigan base and off the OMA circuit, but he’s as fast as ever. Coming from the Open A line, the privateer ended up winning the class and turning in the fourth fastest time overall.
Former series regular and Michigan resident Aaron Wegner proved to be as fast as ever, winning Open A on his trusty YZ250 and finishing fourth overall, 50 seconds behind Fahringer. Adam Bonneur was fourth Pro and fifth overall followed by fellow Kawasaki rider Jordan Ashburn, Shane Klimek on his RM250, Open A runner-up Zach Klamfoth, 30-39 A winner Steve Leivan and seventh Pro Cooper Bailey.
Watkins remains the series points leader after his fifth consecutive podium finish of the series.