After a poor start, Paul Whibley worked his way gradually to the front and, in his typical style, let no one get close to take his second consecutive OMA victory.
Whibley leads Yamaha sweep of Tennessee podium
By Mark Kariya
Paul Whibley led a Yamaha sweep of the podium at the Motion Pro Hangman Cross-country National, round three of the Parts Unlimited Off-road Motorcycle and ATV Nationals, near Hanging Limb, Tennessee. He had to battle back from a poor start to do so, but once he got in front, it proved impossible to dislodge him from his accustomed position over the punishing 11-mile-long course with its abundance of rocks and hills.
The Am-Pro/FMF Yamaha champion ended up beating teammate Thad Duvall by just over a minute with Obermeyer/Am-Pro Yamaha’s Jordan Ashburn third.
However, it was Whibley’s fellow Kiwi Rory Mead leading the first three laps in his OMA debut. Unfortunately for Mead, he would not make history aboard a YZ450F he borrowed from Whibley. Since he didn’t count on leading, his strategy was to pit for fuel when Whibley did. Being in front, however, meant he did an extra lap and his tank didn’t have the capacity for that, leaving him stranded out on the course and out of the race after a swift three laps.
Whibley took the lead after that. “It was just one of those days where you’ve got to keep plugging away because there was so much rock and danger out there that anything could happen, anything could take you down,” he said. “I think people had a lot of problems. It was a bit of a survival run.”
Thad Duvall made his first OMA start of the season and proved he hasn’t forgotten how to ride gnarly trail. After making a bid for the lead, however, a destroyed rear wheel forced him to settle for second.
Indeed, quite a few competitors besides Mead didn’t survive, GEICO Powersports/American Honda/JG Off-road’s Jimmy Jarrett–the victim of a crash that rang his bell hard–among them. Duvall feared his hard-fought, come-from-behind ride to second might be for naught when his rear wheel started coming apart as he got the white flag, leading some observers to believe he had a flat. “I didn’t really notice it until the two-mile marker on the last lap,” he insisted, “and I just couldn’t hardly ride in a straight line. I didn’t think I was going to make it to the finish.” He would end up just over a minute behind Whibley, 2:29:30 to 2:30:34. Ashburn was another four-plus minutes back on his YZ450F to complete the blue sweep while Jarrett’s teammate Scott Watkins was the first non-blue machine on his CRF450R in 2:36:20. Husaberg’s Nick Fahringer took fifth 32 seconds later on his FX 450 after a slow start due to arm pump. Husaberg-mounted Kenneth Gilbert, Dustin Gibson (the $200 FMF Holeshot Award winner), Obermeyer/Am-Pro Yamaha’s Chase Bishop, 30-39 A winner Marty Michels and Lite A winner Daniel Janus rounded out the top 10.
Jordan Ashburn gave the hometown crowd something to cheer for as he led most of the first lap, eventually finishing third for the third round in a row.
Scott Watkins missed round two and returned to the OMAs in Tennessee, but he could only muster fourth after a slow first lap.
Nick Fahringer also found it difficult to get rolling in the early going after a case of arm pump; he got faster later and finished fifth.