West Point, TN, (April 22, 2012) - Paul Whibley made a rare appearance at a national enduro this weekend pay off in a solid 10th place finish at the Rad Dad National in West Point, Tennessee.
Racing a two-stroke for the first time since 2005, and still learning the ropes of the national enduro format, the Monster Energy Athlete gained valuable seat time in preparation for his two main objectives: the 2012 GNCC series and the OMA series, which resume their schedules over the next two weeks.
The Tennessee race marked only the second time that Whibley has raced an American enduro, however, by the end of the day the New Zealander was taking to the format like a dingo takes to raw meat.
"Yeah, this is still a learning process for me, but I'm getting the hang of it," said Whibley. "For the most part, this was an off weekend and I just wanted to come out here and get some time in the saddle to stay sharp for next week's GNCC."
When asked about riding a two-stroke Whibs explained, "these races are pretty tight, with lots of tight corners and narrow trail, and most of the top guys are on two-strokes, so I decided to borrow Randy [Hawkin's] YZ250 to ride, hoping it would be easier to ride than my four-stroke. In hindsight, I might have been better off on the 450, since this event ended up being somewhat slippery and I had big problems spinning the rear wheel."
"All in all, it was something different and something fun," added Whibley. "The bike worked good, it was light and nimble, which is perfect for this stuff; I just struggled with traction throughout the day. Last time, I wasn't sure how the whole enduro thing worked, with the transfers and the special tests, but this time I was more in tune with what was going on and that made a big difference. I was a little more comfortable at least knowing what was going on (laughs)."
With the fifth round of the GNCC series coming up on April 29th, the Tennessee enduro was a perfect place for Whibley to work on his sprint speed, which he admits is something he needs to improve on.
"The weakest part of my racing is my sprint speed; just going from a dead stop to top speed, and that's what these races are all about," said Whibley. "The enduros amount to six sprints in the woods, and the guys with the fastest cumulative time is the winner. So coming here and racing one of these is good practice for me and it helps me work on that aspect of my riding."
The upcoming GNCC is at Mammoth Mountain, near Bowling Green, Kentucky, and it is a brand new venue.
"I have no idea what to expect for that race," explained Whibley. "We'll just prepare for it like any other and just have a good look at the track when we get there on Saturday. Once we have a look, we'll chose the tires that will work best and set up the suspension accordingly. There's not much we're going to change, just rear tires and make a few adjustments to a few clickers.
"Kailub Russell is on a roll, right now, and we've had a solid start to the series, but we've got to start getting some wins at some point or Kailub is going to pass us up and break away. I'm hoping this weekend will be a good one and we can come out of there with a big win."