Webb Sweeps But Smage Wraps Up Title in NY

Shan Moore | July 27, 2009

Webb sweeps the final two rounds of the series in Cayuta, New York. However, it was his Sherco USA teammate Patrick Smage who won the war, wrapping up the series title – his third in a row – with a pair of runner-up finishes.

The two-day event, rounds nine and 10 of the series, was set in the heavily wooded hills of western New York and featured sections that aren’t normally seen on the national circuit – lots steep dirt cambers and a plenty of third and fourth-gear climbs. With rain forecast for the weekend, it was an event that would surely favor the four-stroke riders like Webb, and for one reason or another, Smage also elected to switch over to a four-stroke after riding the entire year on the two-stroke version of the Sherco marquee.

“It probably wasn’t the best decision, but I wanted to give it a try,” said Smage. “I guess it takes more than two days to get used to a four-stroke after riding a two-stroke for 10 years.”

Webb adapted quickly to the steep and difficult sections, beating Smage by nine points on Saturday, with Gas Gas rider Will Ibsen finishing third another 27 points back. However Sunday’s event was decided by a single point and the difference was one particularly tough section set on the side of a steep hill.

“I never made it through section six all day and Cody cleaned it on the last loop, and that’s what really helped him today,” said Smage. “It was a really loose climb with a big rock at the top and I never got past the rock.”

The five-point advantage in section six was enough to make up for a first-lap mistake by Webb and gave him his second win in a row, 29 points to 30, over Smage.

“It feels good to finish out the year with a couple of wins,” said Webb. “This was some stuff that was pretty different from what we usually ride.”

Smage came into the final two rounds needing only to finish fifth on one of the two days to wrap up the title and he did so after Saturday’s event, but despite twice finishing second, the Wisconsin rider was clearly the dominate rider in 2009.

“It’s definitely good to get another win and hopefully I can continue to win,” said Smage. “But it’s a little hard to think about it right now after how I ride this weekend but we’ll take it and move on.”

Third place on Sunday went to Beta USA’s Keith Wineland with teammate Ron Commo III finishing fourth.

A first lap crash on Sunday sent Ibsen to the emergency room for a thorough checkup and stitches for a nasty cut on his head. The Georgian had his bike land on him after falling back down one of the steepest and tallest climbs of the day.

In the final series standings, Smage finished out the year with 230 points, with Webb taking the runner-up position with 206. Wineland nipped Ibsen for third overall, finishing the season with 150 points, compared to 148 for Ibsen. Meanwhile, Commo rounded out the top five with 130.

Shan Moore | Contributing Editor

Moore covers all facets of off-road racing for Cycle News – from AMA Supercross and Motocross to GNCC and National Hare Scrambles events.