Smage Wins, Aaron Clinches
Geoff Aaron claimed an unprecedented 10th national trials title with a 4-5 performance at the final two rounds of the AMA/NATC National Trials Championships held near Providence, Rhode Island, this weekend. However, it was 16-year-old Patrick Smage of Wisconsin who stunned the competition by winning both days of the extremely tough and slippery event. The wins were Smage’s first-ever in Pro-class competition, and in fact, the Sherco USA-sponsored rider had not finished better than seventh in any of the previous six rounds held before the New England event.
On Saturday, Smage looked confident on the slippery and challenging moss-covered rocks and topped Florida Gas Gas pilot Chris Florin by two points for the win. Round six-winner Cody Webb put his Sherco into third place another three points behind Florin, while Aaron, who wasn’t taking any chances on DNFing the event, coasted in for a safe fourth.
On Sunday, Smage led the event from the start and ended up winning a squeaker over Webb by two points, in an event that was decided in the final few sections. Florin dropped to third, while Sherco-mounted Bruce LeRiche finished fourth, ahead of Aaron.
The Gas Gas-mounted Aaron (left), who had four wins in 2006, came into the event with a healthy points lead and only needed to finish the Rhode Island event to clench this year’s title, while behind him, LeRiche and Webb were locked in a tight battle over the runner up position in the final standings. Webb edged LeRiche for the runner up position in the championship with his 3-2 performance, while LeRiche settled for third, after going 5-4