Amarillo, TX – Seven-time US MotoTrials National Champion Patrick Smage took a positive step towards an eighth national title with a double win at rounds one and two of the 2015 Aires US National MotoTrials Series near Claude, Texas, this weekend. The Sherco USA-back rider from Wisconsin was on a mission during Saturday’s event, posting just 2 points on lap one, both taken in the same section at the Diamond Back National Trials, held at the twenty-square-mile Pleasant Creek Ranch, which contains the second largest canyon in the US. According to the riders, the sections were on the easy side, but very slick and tricky, and if you got off your intended line it was tough getting back on track, which either cost you several points or the maximum penalty.
On lap two, Smage took two single dabs for an overall score of two for the lap, and on the final lap the Sherco never once put his foot down, giving him a clean loop, making his overall score for the day a total of 3 points for the win.
Current National EnduroCross Champion and 2010 US MotoTrials Champ, Cody Webb, who is expected to challenge Smage all year, is riding both the EnduroCross and the MotoTrials series in 2015, but was still getting accustomed to his new Montesa Cota 4RT 260, which he had just received the day before the event. Webb dropped 17 marks on the opening loop but slashed his score considerably with each successive lap as he adjusted to his new bike, scattering 6 points across the second lap and then took a paltry single dab in the third and final loop. His overall score of 24 gave the Californian second for the day.
Young Gun Andrew Putt, riding his first year in the Pro division, turned a lot of heads with a solid podium position, finishing the trials just three points behind Webb for third. Putt admitted that most of his points on the day came from fives, so he was determined to turn that statistic around on the following day, although the technical skills he learned from riding in Europe in 2014 served him the Sherco USA rider well for the day.
Meanwhile, second-year pro Bryan Roper struggled with the first section of the day, section one, going 5-5-0 on his three attempts in the section; however, the Sherco USA rider managed to ride consistently enough in the remainder of the event to bing his overall score up to a 36 overall for the day giving his fourth for the round.
“Any little mistake that you made today resulted in a five and I just had more fives than my competitors, today,” admitted Roper.
Another rookie pro, Alexander Niederer, from Florida, riding for Gas Gas USA, admitted to being a little shaky during the early going, but eventually settled down enough to bring home a fifth place finish for the team with an overall score of 45. Not bad for his first event at the highest level.
Last year’s third-place rider, Logan Bolopue, settled for a sixth with a score of 52 ahead of Shad Petersen from Wyoming with an overall score of 159.
A couple of sections were adjusted for day two and some were eliminated altogether and replaced with new ones for day two, but the riders still complained of difficulty staying on line in the sections.
Smage was the man of the hour again (or, perhaps the day), and dropped only 2 points for the day.
“I’m happy to start the series off with a solid weekend,” said Smage. “I felt pretty strong all day and hit my marks well and just had one mistake all day. The wind was a little strong in second one on lap two and I jumped in there and I jumped onto a rock and felt the wind coming and I debated whether to wait it out or go for it now, because the next area was another tricky spot too, so I went for it, and when I got on the rock it blew me hard and I had to take a two to make it through.”
Smage is looking forward to next week’s round in Arizona, which he feels is more to his liking.
Second overall for Sunday’s event was somewhat of a surprise for all involved and it involved a bit of nail-biting, as Roper went into the third and final lap with a one-point advantage over Webb and Putt for second place.
“I was a little bumped yesterday after all the mistakes I made so to finally handle the pressure today and not have any fives all day was something I was proud of,” said Roper.
Roper had struggled again on section one up until the final lap, posting a pair of threes in the section on laps one and two. But to finish out the event in second he needed to duplicated everything else he had done in the rest of the event and then get though section one with a decent score, which he did – a one, giving him second place overall with 13 points.
Third went to Webb with 17 points, while Putt was fourth with 19.
Bolopue (49), Niederer (53) and Petersen (112) rounded out the top seven for the class on Sunday.
The 2015 Aires US National MotoTrials Series resumes action next weekend in Kingman, Arizona, on April 18-19. For more information on the event, please go to www. Mototrials.com.
- Pat Smage (Shr) 3
- Cody Webb (Mon) 24
- Andrew Putt (Shr) 27
- Bryan Roper (Shr) 36
- Alex Niederer (GG) 45
- Logan Bolopue (Shr) 52
- Shad Petersen (Bet) 159
- Pat Smage (Shr) 2
- Bryan Roper (Shr) 13
- Cody Webb (Mon) 17
- Bryan Putt (Shr) 19
- Logan Bolopue (Shr) 49
- Alex Niederer (Bet) 53
- Shad Petersen (GG) 112