US No 1 organises grassroots race

ANDY MCGECHAN
Last updated 12:00 13/11/2012

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He has just finished No 1 in the United States and now Pahiatua's Paul Whibley wants to return to New Zealand and put something back into the grassroots sport.

The Yamaha ace is to organise a race in Manawatu to inspire and perhaps even propel other Kiwis to international stardom.

The 34-year-old former Manawatu forestry worker will return to New Zealand with both the American Off-road Motorcycle and ATV and Grand National Cross Country trophies in his luggage and a few bright ideas in his head.

He and his wife purchased the Taikorea Motocross Park, just outside Palmerston North near Oroua Downs, last year and, with support from Yamaha NZ, will stage a series of cross-country races on the sand-based circuit on December 23.

The Yamaha Taikorea 500 will feature four races, of varying duration, and offer $500 in combined prize money.

"I have planned this event to be a fun and exciting day's racing," Whibley said. "It will have a four-race format, a little different to anything else that's been done before in New Zealand.

"The shorter race duration will cater for all skill levels but will still challenge the professional riders. It will also provide an opportunity for plenty of bench racing [storytelling] between races.

"The prize money system is designed to spread the wealth around a little, with a bonus if one rider can dominate the day. This will hopefully provide some intense racing right to the final flag."

The Taikorea 500 will comprise two one-hour cross-country races on the long track, with a $100 prize to the winner of each.

There will also be two 10-minute cross-country super finals on the short track, again offering $100 to the winner each time. A rider who wins all four races will be paid $100.

Contestants won't have to worry about facing off against the current United States champion - Whibley said he would not enter.

"I won't be racing it. I will be running the show, so I have no time to race on the day. I would love to, as it would be fun, but I'm really just trying to build something for the future and to give something back to the sport and riders."

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- Manawatu Standard

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