Pat Smage Takes National Pro Title!
Smage topped Montesa USA’s Marc Freixa by six points on Saturday to all but wrap up the title with one round remaining, leaving him needing only to finish Sunday’s event to clinch the championship. Freixa came out swinging on Sunday, however, and claimed one last victory over Smage by 11 points, but the Spaniard’s effort was too little too late as Smage’s first and second place finishes at the two-day event were more than enough for Sherco USA rider to clinch the title.
There was no argument that Saturday’s event was the toughest event of the season, as a hard rain in the morning left the moss-covered boulders and steep climbs extremely slippery. The conditions were similar to last year’s final two rounds in Oregon, where Freixa beat Smage handily. However, the Wisconsin rider turned the tables Freixa at this year’s finale, handling the slippery rock walls and muddy climbs with finesse and confidence en route to Saturday’s win.
Smage credited the extra work he put in during the off-season for his success in winning this year’s title.
“Overall, I was surprised and happy with the outcome this weekend and it was kind of emotional because of all the hard work I put in over the winter,” said Smage. “The feeling you get is something you strive for, but it doesn’t always go that way, so when it does it’s especially satisfying. I put in a lot of extra effort over the winter and struggled through some frustration and adverse weather conditions and to have it pay off here in some of the muddiest of conditions is really rewarding.”
On Saturday, Smage established an early lead on lap one when he managed to get through the difficult third section with just a one. This was especially impressive since no other riders even saw the exit cards on this section during the first lap.
Section 10 was another near-impossible section, and none of the riders made it through on lap one.
At the end of the first lap, Smage held a commanding lead with 14 points, followed by Freixa with 22. Sherco USA’s Andrew Putt was breathing down Freixa’s neck at 26 points, while Gas Gas North America teammates Alex Niederer and Bryan Roper rounded out the top five with 40 and 41 points, respectively.
On lap two, the rain stopped and the course started to tack up and dry, although only a few of the sections actually got easier. Freixa eliminated several of his first-lap mistakes this time around, including a five for “timing out” of the third section, to post a 12-point lap – 10 points better than his first circuit of the course. Meanwhile, Smage bettered his first lap score by a single mark and posted a 13-point lap.
Putt had an impressive one-point ride in section three and finished the second lap with 21 points, with Roper coming in at 27 points. Meanwhile, Niederer struggled with fives and finished the lap with 45 points.
Scores dropped dramatically on the third and final lap, with Freixa edging Smage by a single dab, 3 points to 4 for the lap. Both riders also managed to clean the “impossible” 10th section, which happened to be the only two rides of the day that weren’t fives.
When the scorecards were tallied, Smage took the win by six points over Freixa, 31 points to 37. Despite a third loop he would like to forget, Putt finished third with 78 points. Roper got the best of his Gas Gas teammate Niederer to finish fourth with 103 points, while Niederer rounded out the top five with 118.
Montesa USA’s Daniel Blanc-Gonnet (128) turned in some solid rides to finish sixth for the day with 128 points. Meanwhile, Sherco USA’s Sam Fastle and Scorpa USA’s Quinn Wentzel rounded out the top eight with 142 and 160 points, respectively.
In the Women’s Pro division, Canada’s Christy Williams had 95.5 points to take the win over Gas Gas North America’s Madeleine Hoover, who had 113.5 points.
In the Expert division, Gas Gas’ Drew Fortner topped Sherco USA’s Josh Roper by 13 points, 91 to 114.
Sunday’s event featured beautiful weather for trials with temperatures in the 80s.
Smage and Freixa were even up on lap one until section three, where Freixa fell off his line on a particularly scary ledge and scored a five. Smage managed to get through the section with just a one, giving the Sherco rider the early lead.
After one lap, Smage led with 10 points, followed by Freixa and Putt in a tight battle for second, with Freixa leading the young Sherco rider by a single dab, 15 points to 16. Roper came in with 25, followed by Niederer at 37.
Two big mistakes on the second lap by Smage opened the door for Freixa to take the lead after two laps. Both mistakes were fives taken in sections that the Smage had cleaned on the previous lap. The result was a 15-point lap for Smage, while Freixa turned in a five-point lap. Putt was in the mix with a 13-point lap and remained in third.
Heading into the third and final lap of the day, Freixa held a five-point lead over Smage, 20 points to 25. Putt held third with 29. Freixa improved on his second lap by two dabs to post a three-point lap for a total of 23 points for the day, dashing any hopes Smage had of coming back on the final lap for the win.
Smage turned in a nine-point lap for a total of 34 and second for the day, while Putt was not far off in third with 11 for the lap and 40 for the day.
Fourth overall went to Roper with a total of 74 points after turning in 27 marks on his final lap, while Niederer finished fifth with a total of 102.
Gonnet (106), Fastle (128) and Wentzel (148) finished out the top eight.
In the Women’s Pro division, Hoover’s 61-point day beat out William’s 78 points for the win.
In the Expert class, Beta USA’s Andreas Niederer came out on top with 35 points, followed by Gas Gas rider Drew Forkner with 37 points and Scorpa rider Alex Myers with 37.
After eight rounds, Smage finished the season with 225 points and five wins, with Freixa ending up in the runner-up position with 211 points and three. Putt was third on the year with 169 points, while Roper (137) and Niederer (113) rounded out the top five. Smage is now just one championship away from tying North America’s all-time career titleholder Geoff Aaron, who sits atop the NATC record book with 10 US National MotoTrials titles.
For more information on the SWM US National MotoTrials Series, or for info on MotoTrials in general, go to www.mototrials.com.
1. Pat Smage (Shr) 31
2. Marc Freixa (Mon) 37
3. Andrew Putt (Shr) 78
4. Bryan Roper (GG) 103
5. Alex Niederer (GG) 118
6. Daniel Blanc-Gonnet (Mon) 128
7. Sam Fastle (Shr) 142
8. Quinn Wentzel (Sco) 160
1. Marc Freixa (Mon) 23
2. Pat Smage (Shr) 34
3. Andrew Putt (Shr) 40
4. Bryan Roper (GG) 74
5. Alex Niederer (GG) 102
6. Daniel Blanc-Gonnet (Mon) 106
7. Sam Fastle (Shr) 128
8. Quinn Wentzel (Sco) 148
Source: On The Pegs