Whibley Fights Off Jarrett for 9th Straight OMA Win at Moose Run Finale
The 10-round Parts Unlimited Off-Road Motorcycle and ATV Nationals visited nine states over eight months with only one constant: FMF/AmPro Yamaha’s Paul Whibley was usually at the front.
After starting off the season with a very hard-fought runner-up to Russell Bobbitt of the FMF/KTM Factory Off-Road Racing Team, Whibley went on one of his tears (while Bobbitt would go on to chase--and capture--his fourth career championship in the AMA National Enduro Series) and won the nine remaining rounds. The New Zealand native was so dominant that he clinched the title at round eight, with young Obermeyer Yamaha racer Jordan Ashburn similarly consistent by earning podiums at every round and wrapping up second in points early as well. (Ashburn skipped the final race.)
Whibley got off the a great start at the Moose Run, presented by Moose Racing, in the corn country of Fenton, Illinois, but local favorite Adam Bonneur held it open longer to swoop around the outside and steal the $200 FMF Holeshot Award.
But Whibley would quickly retaliate and, except for a few brief minutes when Shane Klimek, another local, stole first, he remained out front for the duration of the longest race on the OMA schedule, its 38.3-mile loop done twice in three hours, 13 minutes and four seconds. American Honda/GEICO Powersports/JG Off-Road’s Jimmy Jarrett kept close tabs on Whibley for much of the race, but when Whibley pressed the pace in the final hour, Jarrett couldn’t quite match it and finished 1:49 back. It marked the best result for Jarrett, the first four-time series champ, in what’s been a frustrating year of injuries and bad luck, though he insists it will be his final year of chasing any one series full-time.
K Motosports rider Bonneur remained in the lead pack for the entire race, though he mostly battled Jarrett’s teammate, Scott Watkins. Those two went back and fourth, arguing over third place, with Bonneur holding the edge in the fast, often rough sections of rolling, freshly tilled corn fields.
Unfortunately for Bonneur, a crash late on the second loop spelled the end of his chance at his first podium of the season, something Watkins was only too glad to hold onto. Bonneur still motored in for fourth despite having no front brake at this point.
Brett Zofchak, a traveling companion of Jarrett and Watkins on the drive from Ohio, found himself playing catch-up all day after falling in the first few miles and losing touch with the pack. Still, he rallied back to finish fifth, about five minutes ahead of Klimek while Open A winner Tyson Emery claimed seventh overall on a bike he’d only picked up earlier in the week.
The always formidable Matt Stavish easily won 40-49 A and placed eighth overall ahead of Open A riders Cody Emery and Trent Buck.
Afterwards, Whibley said, “You never know. It’s one of those races where a minute and a half can disappear pretty fast so you’ve always got to be on your toes.”
Reflecting on his amazing season (second only to his undefeated 2009 run when he also captured the GNCC crown), Whibley was quick to credit his mechanic, fellow Kiwi Scotty Brooker, plus his wife, Katherine, for her pit assistance: “Scotty prepared the bike excellent, like I’ve had no problems at all, and that’s really what you need in something like this [series], to put it all together in the series because there are so many things that can go wrong.”
But very little went wrong that Whibley couldn’t overcome, and he now looks toward next year and the opportunity to become the first five-time OMA champ.
1. Paul Whibley (Yamaha YZ450F)
2. Jimmy Jarrett (Honda CRF450R)
3. Scott Watkins (Honda CRF450R)
4. Adam Bonneur (Kawasaki KX450F)
5. Brett Zofchak (KTM 250 XC)
6. Shane Klimek (Suzuki RM250)
7. Tyson Emery (Yamaha YZ450F)
8. Matt Stavish (Yamaha YZ450F)
9. Cody Emery (Kawasaki KX450F)
10. Trent Buck (Yamaha YZ450F)