Texas Creek, Colorado (May 24-25, 2014) – The 2014 Aires AMA NATC MotoTrials US National Championship Series kicked off this past weekend with rounds one and two of its eight-round schedule at Texas Creek, Colorado, where Sherco USA’s Pat Smage took a pair of decisive wins over Gas Gas USA’s Martin Matejicek of the Czech Republic.
Smage was impressive from the get-go, and had little trouble with the tricky and technical sections set up by the Rocky Mountain Trials Association. Meanwhile, Matejicek spent most of Saturday’s event adjusting to the obstacles, which he admitted were much bigger than what he sees in the European series.
Nerves were a factor for Matejicek on Saturday, as the Gas Gas rider fived three of the first four sections of the opening lap. Smage, on the other hand, managed to keep his emotions in check and dropped just a single point in the same four sections.
At the end of lap one, Smage was clearly in control of the event, losing just four points compared to 30 for Sherco USA’s Logan Bolopue and 37 for Matejicek.
Matejicek settled down on lap two, and bettered his score over the first lap, turning in a 21-point score, which was 11 points better than Bolopue and good enough to move Matejicek into second place heading into the final lap.
Smage bettered his score, as well, dropping just two points for the lap, and giving him a 52-point advantage with one lap to go.
A thunderstorm moved into the area during the final lap, making the sections slippery and much more difficult. Smage had little to worry about with his massive lead, however, and he finished the lap with nine points, making a total of 15 for the day.
Matejicek and Bolopue continued their battle over second, with Matejicek coming out on top after taking 37 points for the lap compared to 47 for Bolopue.
Sherco USA’s Daniel Blanc-Gonnet edged veteran rider Keith Wineland by a single mark, 119 to 120, to take fourth. Meanwhile, Wineland was somewhat happy with fifth, since it was his first national event since taking an extended absence from the series to work for the Nuclear Cowboyz production.
Smage was nearly perfect on Sunday, dropping a single dab on the opening lap, and then cleaning the remaining 24 sections to finish the day with a score of one.
Matejicek was in much better form on Sunday, as well, and posted loop scores of seven, two and thirteen for a total of 22 for the day and second overall.
After spending Saturday working off the rust, Wineland found his groove on Sunday and put his Gas Gas on the final step of the podium with a total score of 48, while Bolopue settled for fourth at 63 points. Blanc-Gonnet was fifth with 98.
Heading into next weekend’s round in Sedan, Kansas, Smage leads Matejicek by 10 points, 60 to 50.
“I’m really pleased with how the weekend went, especially since I haven’t competed since last year’s Trial des Nations,” said Smage. “I’m really please with how my bike performed this weekend and I’m looking forward to the rest of the series.”
Perhaps the closest competition of the weekend was in the Expert division, where up-and-comer Andrew Putt went head-to-head with series veteran Ray Peters. Peters took the win on Saturday, the Beta rider topping Putt by five marks at the end of the 36-section competition. However, Putt got the best of Peters on Sunday, the Sherco USA-backed rider turning in a clean final lap to put an exclamation mark on his 14 point victory over Peters.
“We were going back and forth all weekend and it was a great battle between us,” said Putt. “Ray is a great rider and I’m very happy about finally beating him.”
1. Pat Smage (Shr) 15
2. Martin Matejicek (GG) 95
3. Logan Bolopue (Shr) 109
4. Daniel Blanc-Gonnet (Shr) 119
5. Keith Wineland (GG) 120
6. Dustin Hedwall (GG) 168
7. Shad Petersen (Bet) 176
1. Ray Peters (Bet) 44
2. Andrew Putt (Shr) 49
3. Alexander Niederer (Bet) 66
4. Bailey Tucker (GG) 69
5. Quinn Wentzel (Shr) 100
1. Pat Smage (Shr) 1
2. Martin Matejicek (GG) 22
3. Keith Wineland (GG) 48
4. Logan Bolopue (Shr) 63
5. Daniel Blanc-Gonnet (Shr) 98
6. Dustin Hedwall (GG) 123
7. Shad Petersen (Bet) 151
1. Andrew Putt (Shr) 4
2. Ray Peters (Bet) 18
3. Bailey Tucker (GG) 19
4. Alexander Niederer (Bet) 32
5. Gary Bourque (Bet) 61