Gaston, South Carolina, March 3, 2013 - Monster Energy Athlete Paul Whibley got a quality win under his belt before heading off to Florida to attend the opening round of the GNCC series when he claimed a dominating victory this weekend at the Palmetto Hare Scrambles in Gaston, South Carolina.
The race was the first of the Mid-east Racing series and, as usual, it drew a huge crowd, including some heavy hitters like 2010 GNCC champ Josh Strang and Japanese Cross-country champion Takeshi Koikeda, in addition to Whibley.
Whibley came into the race hoping to redeem himself after his disappointing performance the week before at the first round of the OMA series in Alabama. And he did just that in South Carolina, leading the two-hour, seven-lap race from start to finish. In the end, Whibley wound up beating Strang by over a minute-and-a-half to claim his first major victory of the year.
"After my disappointing performance last week, it was good to have a good showing like this," said Whibley. "It was good to be able to ride against Strang and Koikeda, just to see where my progress is at. Plus, this was a sandy track, which is good preparation for the Florida race."
As usual, the Am Pro Yamaha rider got another one of his patented holeshots to start the race. And after that, he never looked back.
"The start straight was long and narrow and I didn't get the best of jumps at the drop of the flag, but I held the inside line and ended up coming out with the lead," said Whibley.
Once he got out front, Whibley set about slowly building his lead, which stood at around 10 to 15 seconds over Strang by the end of the second lap. On lap three, Strang got a vine wrapped in his rear wheel and lost considerable time freeing things up before he was able to rejoin the race.
"I think Josh must have had problems because the next thing I knew I was over a minute ahead of him on lap three," said Whibley. "I didn't see what happened to him because I was busy trying to deal with lappers. There were so many riders that you were constantly passing someone. However, the course was nice and flowing, which is what I like to ride."
At the finish, Whibley took the checkered flag with a minute-and-fifty seconds to spare over Strang with Koikeda in third.
"It's definitely good to get a win heading into the Florida race," said Whibley, who will be going for a third GNCC title in 2013. "I think I was a little bit rusty at the OMA race and this weekend served to kind of knock the rough edges off."
Whibley's plan is to leave on Tuesday or Wednesday, depending on the weather, and to start heading to Florida.
"We'll just head out down there and find a nice sandy place to practice until it's time to move into the pits," said Whibley. "Hopefully this race was a sign of good things to come."