The Snowshoe event is considered the crowned jewel of the GNCC schedule and is also known as one of the most rugged events on the circuit. This year’s edition was no exception, as the course featured the usual rock-covered slippery hills and bike-swallowing mud holes.
Once again, Whibley grabbed the holeshot on the unusual Snowshoe asphalt start straight, but a small slip later in the opening lap dropped the Am Pro Yamaha rider to all the way back to sixth.
Whibley’s fitness paid off at the end of the three-hour race, however, as the New Zealander worked his way back up to an eventual third place in the final XC1 results, behind fellow Kiwi Rory Mead and runner-up Kailub Russell.
Nearing the end of the series, Whibley holds on to a slim, one-point lead over Russell in the standings, with five rounds remaining. It’s starting to be crunch time in the GNCC series, but Whibley is sitting in good position as the series winds down.
Q: How was this year’s Snowshoe course?
A: It was a typical Snowshoe race, with the usual rocks and mud and roots. The rocks were especially slippery this year, and of course, we had the usual sort of fast fire roads. There were some pretty big hills, as well, that were quite difficult. They were fairly rocky and rooty and pretty tough to get up and there was a lot of passing going on.
Q: Go through the race for us.
A: I got a perfect start and led for the first couple of turns, but then Kailub came past me and he sort of picked up the pace. I wasn’t riding real well; I was kind of uncomfortable in the rocks and I was taking bad lines, and just not riding very well.
I actually went down on the first lap; I just took a bad line and washed the front end on a slippery rock and went down. I dropped back a ways at that point, I think to about sixth. Other than that, I didn’t really get hung up anywhere; I just wasn’t real comfortable with the course and I just didn’t feel like I was in control.
Q: You seemed to settle down a bit after a few laps, though, and you were able to work your way back up.
A: Yeah, about halfway I started finding some good lines and I was feeling more comfortable and I started working my way back up. On the last lap, I got back into third on the track and managed salvage some points.
Q: You’re still holding on to the series points lead, although by the slimmest of margins.
A: Yeah, we’re where we need to be, but we need to keep finishing ahead of Kailub. He’s riding really good right now, and we need to make up as many points on him as possible because I’m sure he’s going to be strong in a couple of these last rounds. So we just need to keep finishing on the podium and ahead of Kailub when we can.
Q: You have the John Penton GNCC in Ohio in two weeks, which is kind of Russell’s home track. How is that racetrack for you? Is it one you like?
A: Yeah, I like that track. It’s generally one of the better courses. It can be extremely muddy if it rains, or it can be quite dusty. But the last few years the course has been very good, so I am looking forward to it. They usually have some fresh trails there each year, so I would rate it as one of the better courses.
Q: So what’s in the agenda for this week?
A: The usual: bike prep, train, and get ready for the next race.