After a long and hard fight for the championship, Paul Whibley was able to secure his 2nd GNCC Championship in 2012. Although it was by a narrow margin and everything came down to the final round, Paul rode a commanding race at Loretta’s to secure the title. We caught up with Paul to hear about his 2012 season, plans for the future and more.
GNCCRacing.com: Hey Paul! How's it going today?
Paul Whibley: It’s going pretty good.
How has your winter break been so far?
It’s nice to take a break. I actually have another summer break. We headed back to New Zealand after the season finished and it’s coming into summer here. It’s been a few years now since I’ve gone through a full winter and I’m getting a little soft in my old age. When the cold weather starts to creep in late in the season, I really don’t like it.
I agree! So, how did it feel to grab your 2nd GNCC championship?
It was awesome. It seemed like so long ago that I won the first title and we had put a lot of work in each season to regaining the championship. To finally win again is really great and feels like just rewards for the team and all the sponsors and supporters who have backed us.
Does the narrow point margin coming into the final round make it more rewarding?
It definitely made it more exciting for the fans. The way the race went was a rewarding finish to the season. To go out, ride a strong race and finish the season with a win and a championship is a good way to end the year.
What was it like battling with Kailub Russell for the points lead?
It was a fun year for sure. Kailub is a very talented rider and has a lot of skills on the bike. He did a great job of coming back from his bad round in Florida and made it a really exciting season. I think he will win plenty of championships in the future.
Is there anything you would like to have done different in 2012?
2012 was a pretty solid year really. Good starts, a lot of consistent podium finishes and some wins along the way. Obviously, we could have done a few things different at Crawfordsville. But we’ll take those experiences and learn from them and we’ll be stronger and smarter the next time a situation like that arises.
What was the toughest part of the 2012 season for you?
Crawfordville was definitely a tough one to swallow. After leading on the last lap and then run out of gas. It was so frustrating. I thought we had done everything by the book, in regards to refueling, but then to be docked a position after the race wasn’t great. To be honest, it made me mad. I was so fired up after that. I remember leaving the track and heading to stay with Sam from G2 for the next OMA and just wishing we had another GNCC the next day so I could use that fire. I just had to bottle it up and save it for Lorretta’s.Ã
For those who don't know what it's like racing in a pro class, what is it like battling for the overall wins in the XC1 class?
It’s the pinnacle of off-road racing really. Riders from all over the world come to the United States to race the GNCC series and to be up front, challenging for wins and winning events is a great feeling. Something I will look back on when I get older, well, older than I am now (laughs) with pride.
What is the toughest part of it all?
It’s a long season. The summer break makes it hard to hold good form right through to the end. This year seemed really long with the OMA’s starting in February and the last GNCC and OMA held in November. In years past we have been home by late October. Katherine and I both miss New Zealand and look forward to getting back at the end of the year.
What about the OMA title, how did that feel?
We had some tough competition this year with Russell Bobbitt coming into the series and Nick Fahringer really stepped it up. Winning a fifth championship in the OMA’s is special too. Jimmy Jarrett had four so to take five and be the winningest rider in that series is cool. It’s not something we set out to do but as the years pass and when it’s something that you really enjoy, the wins just keep coming.
What is the toughest part for you about contesting both series?
I think it makes it easier to do two series. Having something extra to focus on helps keep you from getting burnt out just doing the one series. It’s like if you stare at something so long and intensely you lose a little focus but if you look away for a second and then look back, your focus is so much sharper. Also the OMA’s are a pretty fun series, and some of the skills I have gained there really help me with my racing.
So what are your plans for the rest of the winter?
Well since the season ran so late I only have a couple of weeks left before I start back into preseason training. But, at the moment I’m organizing a race back here in New Zealand at the Taikorea Offroad Park that Katherine and I bought at the start of the year.
You're always known for being the guy that is racing somewhere every weekend, where do you plan on racing through the winter?
Here in New Zealand the season is just starting to get busy so I will be racing some local races over the North Island. The racing here is a little more open and does not seem as intense but it’s good to mix it up and just have some fun.
What are your goals for 2013?
I’d love to take another championship in both the GNCC’s and OMA. It will be tough as there are plenty of guys ready to take it to the next level. I just have to step it up and be ready for the challenge.
What about beyond 2013, where do you see yourself down the road?
Who knows what the future holds. I will be racing bikes for a few years yet but I don’t have any set plans. I still really enjoy the racing in the United States and would love to continue for as long as I can win races. It’s really the best job anyone could have. The off-road park we have in New Zealand will be something we continue to develop and will be part of my plans for the future.
Alright, before we wrap this up, who would you like to thank?
Of course I have to Thank Katherine. She has been a big part of this and has put up with a lot over the years. Also, Randy Hawkins and the Am Pro Yamaha team. I’m happy I could bring them the championship. They have worked hard and deserve their success. Ryan my mechanic, who did a great job with the bike and didn’t complain too much about my quirky setup.Ã The fans, family and supporters who’s cheers really help keep us motivated. Also, the rest of the sponsors who none of this would have been possible without. So a huge thanks to Monster Energy, Factory Connection, FMF, Sidi, Shoei, MSR, Smith, G2, Vortex, Stuk, Kenda, Rekluse, Asterisk, EC3D, Works Connection, Pro Taper, Unabiker, Leatt Brace, Tire Balls, KettleClamp, Alliance Offroad, CV4, Cycle Gear, EBC, GYTR, IMS, Leatt Brace, Pro-Clean, TM Designworks, Cycra, Twin Air, Wiseco, ZipTy Racing, AllBalls, and Pro Taper.