Parts Unlimited Off-road Motorcycle and ATV Nationals,
Whibley wins Moose Run for perfect OMA season
By Mark Kariya
The third time's the charm: Paul Whibley finally won the Moose Run after two unsuccessful tries in the past and in doing so achieved his dream season with a perfect 10 for 10 in the OMAs for his second consecutive title as well as adding the GNCC crown for the first time.
The third time, as they say, is the charm, and it certainly
seemed to be true at the Moose Run, presented by Moose Racing, in Fenton,
Illinois. Paul Whibley hadn’t won the race in two previous attempts.
This time, of course, he came into
the 10th and final round of the 2009 Parts Unlimited Off-road
Motorcycle and ATV Nationals riding a tidal wave of momentum, as he’d won all
nine rounds leading up to it, making him the prohibitive favorite.
But the Moose Run has a way of
throwing curves—as Whibley discovered all too well last year when he led until
the final mile or two and his engine went south enough to allow teammate Jimmy
Jarrett past, though Whibley still earned the championship for the first time,
stopping Jarrett’s run at four in a row.
This time, however, fate proved
kinder to the New Zealand native, the most dominating racer in American woods
racing this year. He got a great start, lost the trail for a moment (with the
rest of his fellow Pros following him astray, then stopping and following him
as he found the correct path like they were on some Sunday trail ride), but once
on the right trail, Whibley would not be denied.
“I didn’t think [I’d be so dominant
this year],” he claimed. “There’s plenty of fast guys racing the series—Jimmy,
Jason Thomas, Scotty Watkins [to name a few]—and there’s so many things that
can go wrong at these races. There’s sticks and logs and all sorts of stuff out
there. To win all 10 this season is pretty cool. So much can go wrong, but
everything’s gone right.”
Though he didn't get the best jump off the line after kicking a couple times, Jimmy Jarrett blasted through the first couple high-speed cornfield turns and would end up second for the day, third for the season.
Behind him, Jarrett recovered from a
sluggish start and quickly latched onto Whibley’s fender, but he couldn’t stay
with his JG Off-road/GEICO Powersports/Monster Energy Kawasaki teammate when he
decided to make a break in the last half of the first 35-mile lap. For the
second straight round, Jarrett would have to settle for runner-up, giving him
third in final series points, unofficially.
Husaberg’s Nick Fahringer put in two
solid laps to claim third for the day—his second podium finish this
season—which vaulted him past privateer Adam Bonneur for fourth in points,
unofficially. (Local favorite Bonneur ran as high as second in the early going,
but he settled for seventh after his bike lost the motor.)
Nick Fahringer shook off his post-ISDE blahs and sped to third for the day and fourth for the season, his first in the OMA Nationals.
Scott Watkins borrowed a KX450F from
teammate Jarrett instead of relying on his usual 250F and finished a strong
fourth. He’d wrapped up second in points earlier in the season and, with
Jarrett’s finish, gave the JG Off-road/GEICO Powersports/Monster Energy
Kawasaki trio a 1-2-3 sweep in points, unofficially.
So how will Whibley celebrate his
perfect season, which comes a week after clinching the GNCC title and is his
second straight OMA championship? By heading home to New Zealand with his wife
for a couple months to unwind—and plan for an encore performance.
1. Paul Whibley (Kawasaki KX450F)
2. Jimmy Jarrett (Kawasaki KX450F)
3. Nick Fahringer (Husaberg FX450)
4. Scott Watkins (Kawasaki KX450F)
5. Jason Thomas (Yamaha YZ250F)
6. Jeff Melik (Yamaha YZ450F)
7. Adam Bonneur (Yamaha YZ450F)
8. Shane Klimek (Suzuki RM250)
9. Jeremy Smith (Yamaha YZ450F)
Podium (from left): runner-up Jimmy Jarrett, winner Paul Whibley, third-place Nick Fahringer.