While most folks where busy preparing for their Super Bowl parties, the AmPro Yamaha Team was making the short drive south to the small town of Wrens, Georgia for the SORCS Sandbox Hare Scramble.
After a nice winter break in his home country of New Zealand, Paul Whibley decided to make this his first race back in the states in almost three months. The 2011 OMA National Champion landed at the airport just hours before being picked up by his teammate Jordan Ashburn and team owner Randy Hawkins. The trio then continued on their mission to the race grounds in Northern Georgia. Surprisingly, the early Sunday morning race brought in a great crowd. Some of the South East’s best racers would square off in what was sure to be a battle all the way to the finish line.
At the drop of the flag the boys were off, all launching into the first corner side by side. As the dust cleared, it was privateer Chase Bishop who would edge out the factory racers, taking the holeshot and leading the pro pack into the woods.
AmPro Yamaha’s Jordan Ashburn made quick work of Bishop, gapping him and the rest of the field by almost 30 seconds on the first lap. The young AmPro Rookie continued his dominating lead until a sudden crash slowed his momentum. Unfortunately for Jordan, this crash was just enough to allow 2011 GNCC XC2 Champion Steward Baylor to sneak by and secure the lead. The deep sand and limited line selection, mixed with a slew of lapped riders, would prove to play a major role in the outcome of the race. Jordan did his best to stay composed and by the middle of the 4th lap he had closed up the gap on Baylor to only ten seconds. However, another crash in lap traffic would send Ashburn to the ground, letting Baylor creep away with the overall victory. Jordan hung on to finish 2nd.
“Today was a lot of fun,” says Ashburn. “The course was really tight but once we got into the lappers it was hard to maintain a regular speed. I’ve definitely got a couple things I need to work on with my consistency but we’re getting there… that’s what these preseason races are all about, working out the kinks!”
AmPro Yamaha veteran Paul Whibley had a less eventful day, as the race proved to be more of a glorified practice session than anything else. With 3 hours of sleep the Factory rider threw his leg over a freshly uncrated 2012 Yamaha YZ450F with limited modifications. Starting out the race in a top five position, Whibley rode a comfortable pace throughout the day and was happy to finish 4th place overall.
“This race was all about getting a feel for the new bike,” says Whibley. “The 2012 YZ450F has some slight differences and I wanted to go out there to see how it felt. Being it was such a last minute decision, we had limited time to get the bike dialed in so I just rode it as it was. Honestly, it felt pretty good. I was glad to go out there and find my pace. Now we know what needs to be done with the bike to get it ready for the upcoming GNCC and OMA seasons.”