Park City, KY, (April 29, 2012) – Monster Energy Athlete Paul Whibley extended his lead in the Grand National Cross Country series point standings with a solid third-place finish at the inaugural running of the Mammoth GNCC at Mammoth Park Resort in Park City, Kentucky.
Whibley once again grabbed the holeshot to start the three-hour race, and then led much of the first two laps before giving way to fellow New Zealander Rory Mead, who went on to claim his first-ever GNCC victory.
Defending series champ Charlie Mullins also passed up Whibs before the end of the six-lap race, leaving the Am Pro Yamaha rider to finish third at the end of the day. However, Whibley’s nearest challenger in the standings, Kailub Russell, struggled with lappers on the narrow and freshly cut trail and finished the race in fourth, allowing Whibley to add an additional two points to his cushion over the young KTM rider.
With five races now in the books, Whibley leads Russell by three points in the chase for the 2012 title, 119 to 116.
How would you sum up your race?
All in all, it was a good day. I got another good start, but I was struggling in the rocks and Rory caught me; he goes real fast in that kind of stuff. He got by me on the second lap and I couldn’t keep up with him, he was riding a really hot pace.
When did Mullins get you?
He got past me about mid-way; I was hoping to keep up with him, and I settled into a good pace and felt relaxed, but I couldn’t find a way around. On the last lap I got hung up on the hill and lost a bit of ground to him. But, overall, it was a good race for us.
Mead looked pretty good and the really tricky stuff.
Yeah, he has a trials background, so in the technical stuff he’s a real good rider. It’s not a big surprise that he was going so good in this stuff.
Kailub struggled on the big hill on the opening lap; was that hill a factor in your race?
There was one big hill that wasn’t too bad. You could get up it with no problem, but every once in a while there would be guys stuck on it and you would have to find an alternate line up it, and I think that’s what happened to Kailub. I think there were riders stuck on it and it caused him problems. It wasn’t too bad, just rocky and loose. It cost me a few seconds on the final lap, and I lost a bit of ground to Mullins, but I don’t think it made a difference in the race.
When Rory went by you, did you try to keep his pace?
I tried for a little bit on the first lap, but once we got to the rocky stuff he was flying, there was no way I was going to stay with him in the rocks.
You ended up gaining some points on Russell so you have to feel good about that.
Yeah, I still need to start winning races here soon, but I’ve been on the podium at every race and Kailub hasn’t so that accounts for something. If we can’t win races, we need to be getting on the podium with some good finishes. Kailub was closing in on us, so we gained some points and extending the points is the main goal, so in that regard today was a good day.