The Axeman in a class of his own
NEVER ONE TO SETTLE FOR NO 2, WHIBLEY WILL BE CHASING A CLEAN SWEEP AT TAR HILL
The fourth and final round of the 2015 Dirt Guide Cross-country Series is set for South Waikato this weekend. Although Paul Whibley has the main trophy in his grasp, it doesn’t lessen what’s in store.
It is no surprise the 37-year-old has won the series with a round to spare, his 1-1-1 results putting him out of reach of his senior class rivals, and he heads to Tar Hill, south of Tokoroa, with nothing left to prove in the two-hour race.
The Yamaha rider is a two-time US champion and made a triumphant return to domestic competition earlier this year when he snatched the NZ Cross-country Championships crown from four-time winner and defending champion Adrian Smith.
Nicknamed “the Axeman”, Whibley has no reason to go chopping down his rivals at Tar Hill, but that won’t prevent him from trying to make it a clean sweep.
The action will be fierce as riders battle for the remaining podium spots and individual class wins.
“I don’t need to win on Sunday, but I never like to settle for second,” says Whibley.
“I have really been enjoying these Dirt Guide Series races. Series organiser Sean Clarke always puts on good events and he’s really nailed it again this year.
“The courses have been of national calibre, well-marked and interesting, challenging but not too difficult.
“Sean has done a great job and I believe one or two of these events should be used as national championship rounds,” he says.
The fight is on for the No2 spot overall, with Jake Whitaker and Coatesville rider Sam Greenslade the most obvious contenders.
Greenslade won this series last season and has had his work cut out trying to match Whibley this year.
Greenslade finished overall runner-up to Whibley in the last round but, with only three of four rounds counted as riders discard their worst result, he’s level with Whitaker.
Smith has had a mixed campaign and is fourth overall, just ahead of Allan Gannon and Jacob Hyslop.
If Smith discards his worst result, a DNF at round three earlier this month, it puts him back into contention for a podium finish.
In terms of class honours, Whibley has wrapped up the over-300cc four-stroke class and Greenslade looks to have a stranglehold on the under-300cc four-stroke class.
Whitaker is unbeatable in the chase for over-200cc two-stroke class glory.
Hyslop and Jake Wightman of Waimauku are locked in a tight battle for the under-200cc two-stroke class win, while Kevin Archer has a firm grip on the expert veterans’ (over-40 years) class.
Junior riders have their fourth and final 90-minute race on Sunday morning with Daniel White and Lachlan Bishop the leading title protagonists, with other riders such as Chris Dickson, Blake Wilkins and Rachael Archer sure to be near the front.