Monster Energy Athlete Paul Whibley claimed a hard-fought third place finish at round two of the OMA Cross Country Series this weekend in Dawson Springs, Kentucky, the Am Pro Rider coming out on top of a race-long battle with KTM rider Kailub Russell to grab the final podium spot on a muddy and difficult day.
Despite riding with a sore hand he injured while practicing just three days before, Whibley managed to hold on throughout the demanding two hour race to land on the podium behind winner Russell Bobbitt and runner-up Nick Fahringer, giving Whibley his best finish so far in OMA competition after taking a fifth at the series opener in Tuscumbia, Alabama.
“I’ll call this a good results considering the circumstances,” said Whibley, who at times struggled to grip his handlebars during the race. “It was a muddy and rugged race, and the ruts got deeper and deeper with each lap, making it difficult to hold on, even without a sore hand.”
Heavy rains overnight left the course very saturated, and several spots of the track developed deep ruts, which caused havoc for most of the riders.
“I think Kailub got stuck in the same rut on every lap,” said Whibley. “It was pretty difficult in places out there.”
After settling into third early in the race, Whibley was still in touch with the two front-runners until mid-race when his rear wheel became entangled in some barbed wire, which took a considerable amount of time to get loose from.
“After that, it was pretty much me and Kailub fighting back and forth over third,” admitted Whibley.
At the end of two hours of racing, Whibley came out ahead of Russell in their two-way battle for third, while Bobbitt took the win ahead of fellow Husaberg rider Fahringer.
“I think I did the best that could be expected,” said Whibley. “This week I’ll get the hand checked out and then decided how hard to hit it the rest of the week; it might be a light week. However, I can’t let up too much, though, the Steel Creek GNCC is next week and we have to be ready for that, for sure.”
Steele Creek marks the third round of the coveted Grand National Cross Country Series schedule, and a key round for Whibley if he is to establish himself as a 2013 title contender. It’s also a venue that Whibs has had a history of good finishes at, and a classic cross-country track, with plenty of creek crossings, mud bogs and rocks. It’s rugged, with long and steep hills going both up and down.
With eight rounds remaining in the OMA series and 11 left in the GNCC series, there’s still plenty of racing to go in 2013, and Whibley knows full well that he’s not out of the hunt in either series by any means.
“There’s a long ways to go and anything can happen in these long series,” said Whibley. “I just need to keep landing on the podium and see where we end up.”