Toronto, Ohio (June 20-21, 2015) – Pat Smage clinched his eighth US National MotoTrial title with two rounds remaining on the schedule by taking a double victory at rounds seven and eight of the Aires AMA US National MotoTrials Series in Toronto, Ohio. So far, the Sherco USA rider is undefeated through eight rounds, and is looking at a sweep of the entire series if he can win the remaining two rounds in Wyoming.
Much like the week before in Nebraska, heavy rains left eastern Ohio heavily saturated and after Saturday’s round, Smage called the event the muddiest and slickest he’d ever ridden, with the exception of possibly his first ever national. In fact, a creek running through the property swelled to the point that sections had to be thrown out because they weren’t accessible to the riders.
“You couldn’t rely on grip anywhere it was so muddy,” said Smage. “It was some of the toughest conditions I’ve ridden.”
On Saturday, Smage took a small initial lead after posting a 19-point score for the opening lap. This included a five at section two where he hit the ground so hard his helmet came off when he failed to make it up a tall and nearly vertical step.
Smage’s Sherco USA teammate Bryan Roper was not far behind at the end of lap one with a score of 18, while Cody Webb posted a 19-point lap on his US Montesa-backed Cota 4RT.
Smage picked up the pace on lap two, knocking 10 points off his first lap total for a score of nine for the lap, while Webb came in with 13 marks. Roper’s card showed 24 points, while teammate Andrew Putt began to move into the podium picture after dropping 20 points for the lap.
With sections at their muddiest, Smage did good to match his nine-point score from lap two on his third and final lap, giving him a total of 24 for the day and the win. Webb maintained his consistency, as well, and posted anther 13-point lap to finish the day with 45 and second overall.
The battle for third came down to the final lap between Roper and Putt, with Putt finally grabbing the last step of the podium after logging a stellar 17-point final lap and a total of 64 points. Roper finished four marks behind Putt with a total of 68 for fourth, while Sherco USA’s Logan Bolopue rounded out the top five with a total of 84.
Gas Gas USA’s Alex Niederer chipped his two front teeth in a nasty crash on the final lap, but still managed sixth overall with 104 points.
Despite his big win, Smage’s thoughts after the event were on eliminating his mistakes.
“I started off a bit rough” said Smage. “In section two I had a strange crash where my helmet actually came off, which was a bit different, but I was able to turn it around from there. After that, I had good rides up until section 12, and I had another freak thing happen. I was on a good ride and then all of a sudden my front end just tucked and I landed in a jumble of rocks. I’m still not really sure what happened, but from there I just tried to clean up the fives and minimize the mistakes, and I was able to do that on the second two laps. Overall, I was pretty happy with how I rode, and I feel I’ve improved over last year. These conditions are where I usually struggle the most and I feel I’ve improved a bit.”
Day two was more of the same. And while the rain held off, the damage had already been done, as the riders were greeted with another day of muddy sections. Webb was not among the starters on Sunday, but went to the doctor instead after waking up in the morning with food poisoning.
Once again, Smage jumped out to a narrow lead after the first lap with 13 points. Putt, who was having a much better first lap today, was sitting in second at 16 points, followed by Roper with 27.
Smage edged Putt by three points again on the second loop, 17 to 20, while Roper bettered his first lap by six points to post a 21-point lap.
Heading into the final lap, Smage held a six-point lead over Putt. And with the sections rapidly deteriorating, anything could happen. However, Smage knuckled down and pulled off an amazing 11-point lap and waited in the pits for Putt to turn in his card. When Putt finally came in, his third lap card totaled 26, giving Smage the clear win.
Putt finished second with 56 points, 15 behind Smage’s 41, while Roper rounded out the podium with a total for the day of 75.
Smage’s win gave the Wisconsin rider an insurmountable lead in the series standings, which wrapped up the Sherco rider’s eighth national championship with two rounds remaining in Wyoming remaining on the schedule.
“It’s pretty amazing,” said Smage. “To have one title is pretty amazing, but I never dreamed I’d reach eight. It feels really good, and with Cody Webb coming back to ride this year, I really wasn’t expecting to do this well. Putt and Roper are riding really well, too, and I didn’t know if they would overtake me this year or not, so it’s kind of a surprise to wrap up the title early.”
The Aires AMA US National MotoTrials Series will finish up the season on August 8-9 in Casper, Wyoming. For more info on the series, go to www.mototrials.com.
1. Pat Smage (Shr) 24
2. Cody Webb (Mon) 45
3. Andrew Putt (Shr) 64
4. Bryan Roper (Shr) 68
5. Logan Bolopue (Shr) 86
6. Alex Niederer (GG) 104
1. Pat Smage (Shr) 41
2. Andrew Putt (Shr) 56
3. Bryan Roper (Shr) 75
4. Alex Niederer (GG) 103
5. Logan Bolopue (Shr) 108
6. Cody Webb (Mon) DNF