Race Report: Rnd 6 GNCC Ohio
Rider: Paul Whibley
Team: FMF Suzuki
Bike: Suzuki RMZ 450
What a race. The conditions were horrible, the mortality rate was extreme and the finishers list was short. One team stood out in the slop. Team FMF Suzuki swept the podium. I took home the win, Josh Strang was second and Jimmy Jarrett completed the yellow domination.
It was a strange race with riders being covered in head to toe mud, it was hard to pick out who was who.
I got a good start but collided with someone on the first turn and got stood up, losing my position. I got completely filled in early in the lap and removed my goggles. Riders were going down like flies, crashing, getting stuck, or drowning their bike in the deep water filled ruts.
My gloves got covered in the slick clay mud and I soon struggled with the controls. At the end of lap 1, I pulled into the pits for gloves and goggles. I was told I had a good lead over Josh and Jimmy but I didn't work out that they meant I was leading the race. Lap 2 completed and I was in for gloves and goggles again, this time it was confirmed to me that I was leading.
The track was cutting up bad and lines were forming everywhere, it was a real lottery to try a new line if it would be faster and safe, or slower and impassable. On the third lap I was directed around some bottleneck and ended up completely lost. By the time I found the track again I had dropped to 4th. I didn't know who was in front and how much time I had lost. After gassing I was told Nate Kanney was just in front of me. I caught and passed him quickly but he got me back later in the lap on a better line. I caught him again and made a pass when he had bike problems and came to a stop. Two laps to go and Knighter was having problems. I must have passed him out on the track somewhere, but it was hard to tell who was who by now. It didn't help that my eyes were so full of mud everything had a brown tinge. Last lap I got a pit board "Josh 50 sec". I thought this meant that he was catching me. So I pinned it, thinking I was in third and not wanting to let go of the final podium spot.
At one point I thought I saw Josh behind me and thought "damn he has caught me". I rode as hard as I could to the end, crossing the line to cheers from the crowd. Katherine told me I had won. I was stunned! It seemed unreal!
After the race I was told Josh had been leading and that I must have passed him somewhere and that Knighter had dropped right back with bike problems.
Big thanks to the Suzuki team for all their support. My mechanic Dan for doing a great job with the bike and Katherine for keeping it all together.