Eight in a row for Whibley with painful Indiana win

 By Mark Kariya

Still hurting from his horrendous GNCC crash the week before, Paul Whibley wasn’t sure he’d ride the OMA National in Indiana. But he eventually decided to race and, after a somewhat careful start to make sure he didn’t fall or get roosted on, moved into the lead and won for the eighth round in a row.

Paul Whibley could easily have passed up riding the Smith Goggles High Line Cross-country National, round nine of the Parts Unlimited Off-road Motorcycle and ATV Nationals, at the Reynolds Family Farm in Medora, Indiana. He’d wrapped up the championship at the previous round with his seventh win in a row, so riding the final two rounds could’ve been considered optional.

            And no one would’ve blamed him for skipping it after witnessing his horrendous crash into a tree at the GNCC the week before when he slammed into a tree while dicing with FMF/AmPro Yamaha teammate Thad Duvall for the final podium spot.

            But the Kiwi–now a four-time series champ after locking in the 2011 title at round eight–ended up going to Medora, testing how his leg felt after Saturday practice (still extremely painful) and lined up on Sunday. Amazingly, he started quickly, though he drifted wide, almost tangling with four-time AMA National Enduro Champ Russell Bobbitt (the last man to beat him at an OMA this year when the FMF/KTM Factory Off-road Racing Team star took the opening round) and drifting wide.

 After relying on his YZ250F for most of the season, Jordan Ashburn switched to a YZ250, got the $200 FMF Holeshot Award, led for more than half the race and settled for second after the air filter started clogging.

            That allowed Obermeyer Yamaha’s Jordan Ashburn to cut inside and edge Bobbitt for the $200 FMF Holeshot Award. Ashburn proceeded to lead the first five laps–his best performance to date–until the air filter started clogging, leading, predictably, to less power out of his YZ250.

            After treading gingerly to both test and protect his tender leg, Whibley went to the front in the final hour and hammered away in his usual manner to take win number eight.

            “I was careful not to fall off, I was careful to avoid any trees whacking [my thigh] or even stones, like roost and stuff,” he said. “I was conscious of that and wouldn’t say I warmed up during the first part but [was] just being careful, I guess. We’re still in a points battle for the GNCCs. I’ve got this sewn up so it really didn’t matter what I did today, but it ended up working out.”

            Ashburn hung on for second with American Honda/GEICO Powersports/JG Off-road CRF450R-mounted Scott Watkins coming back through the pack after a bad start to mix it up with the leaders, ultimately fighting off Bobbitt for third. Bobbitt was fourth, just six seconds back in his first ride aboard his 2012 300 XC.

Despite a bad start, Scott Watkins quickly worked his way into the mix with the leaders. He would battle with Russell Bobbitt for third, prevailing by six seconds.

            A top B racer a couple years ago, Morgan Moss entered the Pro division in Medora–his first OMA of the year–and earned fifth aboard his YZ450F. Adam Bonneur started quickly on his K Motosports KX450F, but a case of arm pump and, later, falling would relegate him to a lonely sixth. Shane Klimek took his trusty self-sponsored RM250 to seventh, which helped him leapfrog past Jimmy Jarrett into fourth in the points. Jarrett’s bad luck continued, this time with a stomach problem after a couple laps forced the American Honda/GEICO Powersports/JG Off-road ace back to the pits after running second despite a last-place start.

Russell Bobbitt has spent most of the year vying for and eventually winning his fourth AMA National Enduro Championship. Now that he’s finished that task, he decided to give the OMAs another go. The only man to beat Paul Whibley this season (at the opener), Bobbitt raced his 2012 300 XC for the first time, got a great start and finished a close fourth.

            Lite A racers Jake Fiddler, Kyleer Vance and Derek Spangler rounded out the top 10 overall.

            The final race of the 2011 OMA Nationals will be the Moose Run in two weeks. However, the 2011-2012 Parts Unlimited OMA Winter Series–the High Line serving as round two of that seven-round series–will continue through the winter with round three coming up in Cobb, Kentucky, on November 12-13.


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