Freixa And Smage Trade Wins At Ohio MotoTrials!
Rounds 5 & 6 of the 2017 SWM US National MotoTrials Series took place in Garrettsville, Ohio, this weekend, where Montesa USA’s Marc Freixa and Sherco USA’s Pat Smage traded wins over the course of the two-day event. The competition couldn’t have been closer, with Freixa getting the win on Saturday by a single point, while Smage pulled off a squeaker on Sunday, winning on a tie-break after the two riders finished the event deadlocked at eight points each.
Trials Inc. did a fantastic job with the event, and managed to handle a whopping 130-rider field with only one bottleneck all day on Saturday. The sections were well marked, the scoring was first class and the venue was fantastic, with plenty of prime camping and a bathhouse to boot!
Saturday’s event featured the unique “Shootout” format, and this was where the Pro class was truly decided, since both Smage and Freixa finished the two preliminary loops clean.
The Shootout format sees the Pros ride two loops in the morning and then in the afternoon they ride four spectator-friendly sections two times each.
Sherco USA’s Andrew Putt went into the Shootout sitting in third position after posting loop scores of 8 and 2 points during the morning. Meanwhile, Gas Gas North America’s Bryan Roper was a close fourth, though he held third after the first loop with an impressive 1-point lap.
The first Shootout section consisted of sand-covered rocks on the side of a big ledge and this section cost Smage dearly, when, after cleaning it on his first trip through, sand from his rear tire dislodged a marker after he had already passed by it, giving him a five for the ride - a truly unlucky occurrence. Freixa was able to pass through clean on both attempts and took the lead by five points.
Roper also cleaned the section on his second time through, garnering a huge roar of approval from the crowd. The Arizona rider posted a two on is first ride through. Meanwhile, Montesa USA’s Daniel Blanc-Gonnet was next best with a one and a two, followed by Scorpa USA’s Quinn Wentzel with a pair of two-point rides.
Section two consisted of big vertical climbs up a steep bank. Smage took a pair of ones here, while Freixa was clean on both attempts.
Putt and Gas Gas North America’s Alex Niederer also went clean-clean in section two, while teammate Roper had a clean and a one.
Section three was perhaps the most technical of the four sections and also included some difficult steps and big drops. Smage cut into Freixa’s margin by one point when he posted a pair of cleans compared to Freixa, who had a clean and a one.
Putt was impressive again with two consistent three-point rides. Niederer and Blanc-Gonnett also got through it once.
Section four was the most impressive from a spectator standpoint, with a series of narrow lines along the top of large rocks, with a near-impossible rock step posing as the focus point of the section. Smage made up five points on Freixa in this one after posting a five and a clean, compared to Freixa’s two fives.
Putt posted a three on his first attempt but wowed the crowed with an amazing clean on his final attempt, which saw him riding the rear wheel along the top of the final four rocks before flying out of the exit.
Everyone else fived the section on both ride except for Sherco USA’s Sam Fastle, who turned in an impressive ride for a three on his final attempt.
When the final cards were tallied, Freixa came away with the win by a single point over Smage, 11 points to 12. Putt finished third with 27 points, followed by Roper with 39 and Niederer with 43.
Blanc-Gonnet (61), Fastle (81) and Wentzel (94) rounded out the top eight.
Sunday’s event was the standard three-lap affair, though the organizers tightened up the sections a bit in an effort to draw more points from the pros. From the looks of the final results, they accomplished their goal without making it too tough on the support classes.
Freixa got off to a quick start on the opening lap of Sunday’s event, posting a three-point lap, which was three marks better than Smage’s six points. Freixa dropped a two and a one, compared to a five and a one for Smage. Putt came in with the third-best score with a nine.
Smage’s five came when he broke the ribbon while trying a bold line over a two logs in section seven.
“It was a little more dangerous line and I should have taken the safety route,” said Smage. “It was two suspended logs and I just tried to hold pressure and set my front wheel on the second one. I was an inch too far right where it started to slope down. The front end just slid sideways and caught the ribbon.”
Smage made amends for his first-lap mistake with a brilliant one-point second lap. Meanwhile, Freixa took to dabs along the 12-second course.
Putt came in with the next best score of 12, followed by Ropers 17.
The final lap would ultimately decide the event, and Smage once again turned in a one-point ride, taking a safe one on the log this time. Freixa, on the other hand, took a two in the log section and then another single dab in section two. This gave both riders a score of eight, and Smage got the win by virtue of having 32 cleans compared to 29 for Freixa.
Since the two top riders split wins, Smage maintains a 14-point advantage going into next week’s finale in Rhode Island.
Third on Sunday went to Putt, who finished with a total of 27 points after whittling his final lap score down to a six. Roper ended the day with 47 points and fourth overall. Blanc-Gonnet rounded out the top five with 64.
Six through eighth were Niederer (68), Fastle (96) and Wentzel (104).
After six rounds, Smage now leads the SWM US National MotoTrials Series standings with a total of 170 points. Freixa sits in second place with 156 points, while Puttis third with 127 points.
The event also served as rounds 1 & 2 of the Eastern Regional Series for amateur riders not wishing to contest the entire national schedule.
The 2017 SWM US National MotoTrials Series wraps up next weekend in Exeter, Rhode Islands with rounds 7 & 8 of the series at Stepping Stone Ranch. Go to www.mototrials.com for more information on the SWM US National MotoTrials Series and on the sport of MotoTrials in general.
1. Marc Freixa (Hon) 11
2. Pat Smage (Shr) 12
3. Andrew Putt (Shr) 27
4. Bryan Roper (GG) 39
5. Alexander Niederer (GG) 43
6. Daniel Blanc-Gonnet (Mon) 61
7. Sam Fastle (Shr) 81
8. Quinn Wentzel (Sco) 94
1. Pat Smage (Shr) 8
2 Marc Freixa (Mon) 8
3. Andrew Putt (Shr) 27
4. Bryan Roper (GG) 47
5. Daniel Blanc-Gonnet (Mon) 64
6. Alex Niederer (GG) 68
7. Sam Fastle (Shr) 96
8. Quinn Wentzel (Sco) 104