GNCC Racing

Tuesday Toolbox: Paul Whibley

Tuesday, March 10, 2009 | 4:00 PM

While Paul Whibley might wear the number-two plate on his bike based on his runner-up finish in last year's GNCC tour, him taking to the championship throne vacated by David Knight is no guarantee. Whibs had to switch to a new team and a new bike brand in the off-season, and also deal with a motivated pack of championship rivals. But after the first two rounds of racing, he is the series' points leader. We spoke with him to see what the early season has been like.

So how did you feel about the Florida race?
I was pretty happy with it. I got a pretty bad start but I worked my through the pack. I was pretty happy considering the start.

What about Georgia?
Georgia was good. I won that race. I got a good start.  We were swapping places back in forth in the pack. It was pretty fun. We would pick different lines around the mud holes and rocks.

Was it fun battling in a pack like you did in Georgia?
It was pretty cool. We were swapping places. Position would change. It was pretty cool. It was like we were just out for a trail ride.

How did you feel leaving the first two rounds with the points lead? Were you expecting that?
I wasn't expecting that but I knew I could do it. It's a long series. I'm hoping to get some good consistent races. It's coming together pretty good. I was pretty happy. It's looking great. The time we have spent working together went pretty great.

What were your feelings when Suzuki couldn't make you an offer?
I was a little disappointed. I think they were happy with my results. I think had to do with the way the economy played out.  There's a good bunch of guys I'm working with now.  It's pretty cool. It's a great atmosphere and team to work for.

What was your first reaction to the GEICO deal?
Me and Jimmy were talking about options for next year and with JT. I guess this year it just sort of worked out. It's an exciting new team on the Pro Row and it should be good.

What is it like working with JT and Gretchen Bennett?
They're really great. Gretchen is really good. She's holding down a full time job as well as the races. She puts in a lot of late nights and long hours. JT is a lot of help.  He's also a racing enthusiast. He's helping out in the pits.

JT was a racer too, right? Does he have any plans to race?
He's hoping to race a couple of the GNCC's and racing some endurocrosses this season as well.  I'll possibly be racing against him in Endurocross. I'm not sure what class he'll race if he does the GNCC. He might do the a.m. races and still help out in the pits.

What was their reaction after the race?
They were pretty happy! I guess they had hoped for some results like this.  We went 1 for 2 so that was good.

You are known for being the hardest training and hardest working rider in the sport. Why do you work so hard-even during summer break?
I guess it's kind of who I am. I don't feel comfortable or relaxed unless I've done some training for the day. I guess summer break for me is to kick it up another level. Carry on training for the GNCCs and improve. Racing bikes is just what I like to do.

What types of training do you do?I try to vary it but I do a lot of different running and sprint things. Some weight training. Swimming. Mountain Biking. What I do varies depending on where we are in the season.  Pre-season we're training twice a day.  During the weeks in between the GNCCs,  it's maybe training once a day. It varies a lot with what's going on.

Are you feeling pressure to win this title now that Knight is gone?
I don't know if I'm feeling more pressured. I guess the title is up for the grabs. I was still trying to push for the title when Knight was here.  He is a very talented rider and very hard to beat.  Now that he's not here I guess the other riders are thinking the same thing, that the title is up for grabs.

Do you wish Knight was still here to challenge for the title?
That would be cool but it would probably make my job much harder. I guess it would be kind of cool.  I guess maybe whoever wins the title this year, they will be looked up as being won in the absence of David Knight. But you can't really take anything away from it.

What is the reaction of people back home in New Zealand to your points lead?
I've had a lot of phone calls and text messages and congratulations.  It's a long season. We're not holding our breath yet.  Everyone back home is pretty excited. A lot of people follow the results live scoring. People back home are following it with pretty close interest, I guess.

What are your expectations for Steele Creek?
There are some good mudholes, some cool hill climbs. It's a pretty tough track. It gets pretty rough and rooty.  Hopefully we'll get another good finish. Bank on that podium and work towards another win.  There's a bunch of guys who can take it any round so I'll keep working towards putting my best results into each race. Hopefully I'll keep it consistent and keep building the points.