Geico/JG Racing Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Paul Whibley took a definite leap toward tying up this year’s Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Championship when he took a decided victory at round 11, the Moose Racing Yadkin Valley Stomp, on September 27 in North Carolina. His two main competitors, FMF Makita Suzuki’s Josh Strang and Charlie Mullins joined him on the podium.
Whibley was the first to conquer the grassy start in the XC1 class, collecting the $250 Motorcycle-USA.com holeshot award. Rain the day prior made the track a battlefield of deep ruts and mudholes – added in with the already challenging 15-foot creek jump.
Whibley grabbed the holeshot, but Husqvarna’s Glenn Kearney quickly edged in front around the second turn to take the lead. By the creek jump, Whibley had moved into the lead, but Kearney stayed close behind – followed by Strang and Mullins. But by the third lap, Whibley began to move away from the field with Strang some 50 seconds behind.
Strang knew he needed to top Whibley in order to close the series point standings back up and he put in a charge and made up time – and by the white flag had cut his margin in half. But Strang ran out of time as Whibley finished rough 20 seconds in front of him.
“It’s hard feeling like I’m the faster rider out there, but I keep making little mistakes here and there,” Strang said. “Second place is good, but not where I need to be.”
Mullins finished third.
Shock Doctor KTM’s Nate Kanney moved up to finish fourth, followed by Kearney in fifth. Hawk finished sixth in front of Jimmy Jarrett in seventh. Kenny Gilbert, Husaberg’s Jesse Robinson and Jason Davis rounded out the top 10.
In XC2 action, Shock Doctor KTM’s Kailub Russell clinched his first professional championship after finishing first in front of teammate Cory Buttrick and GEICO/JG Racing Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Scotty Watkins.
“It feels pretty good,” Russell said. “It was a good year. There were a few races I could check out, but most of these races these guys kept me in check.”