Round 7 Parts Unlimited Off-Road Motorcycle and ATV Nationals from Missouri
Paul Whibley is officially in win mode once again. That’s the only conclusion one can draw after AmPro/FMF Yamaha star rolled to his fourth consecutive triumph in the Parts Unlimited Off-road Motorcycle and ATV Nationals, this one the Motion Pro Mizzou Cross-Country National at the Miller Farms near Newark, Missouri.
But former series points leader Scott Watkins clung tenaciously to Whibley’s rear fender all afternoon--one simple crash making his 20-second finish line deficit seem more than it was for most of the event. The JG Off-road/GEICO Powersports/Monster Energy Kawasaki racer kept the damage to a minimum in finishing second and now trails his rival by seven points, 174-167.
“It was a good day,” two-time and defending series champion Whibley declared. “It was a good, fun day with Scott right behind me the whole day; it made it exciting so you couldn’t go to sleep. You had to keep pushing so it was fun. He was riding really good; like, I couldn’t pull away!”
A review of the lap charts showed Watkins was faster than “Whibs” on three out of the seven laps, with one lap done in the same time. What hurt the Kawasaki racer was a simple spill.
“Right before the big hills and stuff that we had, I just washed out,” Watkins reported. “I couldn’t have been on the ground more than 10 seconds. The bike didn’t shut off--the hands didn’t even come off the handlebars--but it was that 10 seconds that I think he saw me behind and he kind of capitalized on it and pinned it, where I was trying to get everything straightened up again. He was able to make some time [on me there, but] it was good; I felt really good today. I was pressuring him, which is what I’ve been wanting to do--kind of not let him get out front and do his own thing, kind of keep him in sight and keep him in check.
“I’ve just got to wait for it to happen. That’s kind of been my game plan all year, is just wait for the win to come to me.”
Behind the two leaders, a large chase pack formed consisting of Watkins’ teammate Jimmy Jarrett, privateer Suzuki rider Shane Klimek, Husaberg’s Nick Fahringer, and Kawasaki-mounted Adam Bonneur and Jordan Ashburn. Round two Klimek faded back in the pack to an eventual seventh Pro, 11th overall.
But when Whibley’s young teammate Thad Duvall reached the tight trio of Ashburn, Bonneur and Fahringer, he sliced through with relative ease and let them keep fighting amongst themselves.
“I got around them guys and I go, ‘Okay, it’s time to put my head down,’ ” Duvall said. “Ashburn stayed with me and kept me honest for a lap or two.”
But Duvall was more interested in catching the leaders. “I just tried to put my head down and charge as much as I could to try and catch them guys, but I just wasn’t catching them like I wanted to. The last couple laps, Dad said to calm down; third’ll be good to get some points so I just calmed down and rode my own race from there.”
With Duvall locked into third, Bonneur and Ashburn went at it for fourth with Bonneur holding the advantage until about a mile to go when he fell, handing the spot back to Ashburn. Bonneur was up quickly and chased Ashburn to the finish, but he needed more race and had to settle for fifth place, less than four seconds behind. Fahringer ended up sixth after starting comparatively slowly.
Jake Fiddler once again took Open A on his Johnnysigns.com Kawasaki, finishing with the seventh fastest time of the day and about a minute and a half quicker than class runner-up Zach Klamfoth. Michael Williams won Lite A again aboard his Barry Heath Racing Kawasaki with Open A Zach Ingram rounding out the top 10 overall.
1. Paul Whibley (Yamaha YZ450F)
2. Scott Watkins (Kawasaki KX450F)
3. Thad Duvall (Yamaha YZ450F)
4. Jordan Ashburn (Kawasaki KX450F)
5. Adam Bonneur (Kawasaki KX450F)
6. Nick Fahringer (Husaberg FX 450)
7. Jake Fiddler (Kawasaki KX450F)
8. Zach Klamfoth (Yamaha YZ250)
9. Michael Williams (Kawasaki KX250F)
10. Zach Ingram (KTM 250 XC)