In almost an exact repeat of last weekend, Pat Smage and Marc Freixa swapped wins for the second week in a row, this time at rounds three and four of the 2016 SWM US National Championship MotoTrials Series at the Trials Training Center in Sequatchie, Tennessee, May 28-29.
The Trial Training Center has some of the most beautiful and rugged terrain in the country when it comes to off-road events like the annual Tennessee Knockout (TKO) held at the 700-acre facility every year. And it is a trials paradise for those who enjoy the feet up sport. However, TTC can be treacherous when wet and with rain in the forecast, the organizers set up the MotoTrials section on the easy side. And when the rain did not materialize, the end result was a trial that saw both Smage and Freixa finish Saturday’s event without taking a dab. However, Freixa was given a five-point penalty when his minder moved a rock in section 10, which is against the rules. Smage would have won the event anyway had it not been for Freixa’s penalty, since in a tie situation the win goes to the rider who finishes the event with the fastest time, and the Sherco rider finished the 12-section, three-lap course 16 minutes quicker than Freixa. The penalty gave Smage the win and dropped Freixa to second.
“I figured the sections would get trickier as the trial progressed, but we ended with a clean first lap and so did Freixa, so at that point it turned into a race [due to the potential of a tie-break situation, which is decided by the rider who finishes the event with the fastest time],” said Smage. “On the final lap I was getting a little nervous because there were a few places that were a little tricky and I landed on some loose rocks a few times and that almost cost me a point, but I’m happy I was able to put in a complete day.”
Naturally, Freixa was frustrated at cleaning the trial and still missing out on the overall win.
“The trial was too easy for the top riders and we had to race around the course, which is dangerous,” said Freixa. “It was disappointing but I am looking forward to tomorrow.”
Andrew Putt (Team RYP/Zip Express/Dunlop/Maxima/Sherco) was another rider on his game, his 4/2/0 loop scores leaving him with the final step of the podium, while Karl Davis Jr. (Team RYP/Zip Express/Dunlop/Maxima/Scorpa) had one of his best rides to date with an 18-point day and fourth overall.
Logan Bolopue (Team RYP/Zip Express/Dunlop/Maxima/Sherco) rounded out the top five with one point more than Davis.
Saturday’s disappointment was just enough incentive for Freixa to come out with guns blazing on Sunday. The former number three in the world dropped just one point on each of his first two laps, both coming on the difficult seventh section, before turning in a clean lap on his final go-around.
Smage, on the other hand, struggled in section seven, dropping a total of seven points there, and leaving Freixa all alone in first.
“Section seven was good for me,” said Freixa. “It was the right difficulty and I was able to gain some ground on Smage there. It was possible to clean it but you could also take a five there, so it was challenging.”
Freixa’s win left him in a two-way tie with Smage in the series points standings.
“It is a good battle so far with Smage, and I am looking forward to the next round in Oregon,” said Freixa.
Smage grabbed the runner-up slot with his seven-point day.
“We did have one tough section that I wasn’t quite able to figure out, and I ended up taking all of my points there, so the entire day came down to that section. It dried out during the day and I just kind of spun and didn’t get the drive to make it to the top,” said Smage. “But I’m pleased with how I’ve ridden in the series so far. To be honest, I really didn’t expect to be able to take a win from Freixa and so far I have two.”
Putt was third again on Sunday, and once again the Sherco rider was brilliant on his final lap. In section seven, Putt took a five on the first lap, but came back with a two and a clean on the final two laps. A three-point ride in section 11 of the first lap left Putt with a total of 10 points.
Karl Davis Jr. was solid again, but just can’t seem to crack the top three just yet. A 30-point day put the Scorpa ride in fourth, just one point ahead of fellow Floridian Alex Niederer (Gas Gas USA)
- Pat Smage (Shr) 0
- Marc Freixa (Mon) 5
- Andrew Putt (Shr) 6
- Karl Davis Jr. (Sco) 18
- Logan Bolopue (Shr) 19
- Alex Niederer (GG) 23
- Sam Fastle (Shr) 37
- Daniel Blanc-Gonnet (Mon) 41
- Quinn Wentzel (Sco) 81
- Marc Freixa (Mon) 2
- Pat Smage (Shr) 7
- Andrew Putt (Shr) 10
- Karl Davis Jr. (Sco) 30
- Alex Neiderer (GG) 31
- Sam Fastle (Shr) 40
- Logan Bolopue (Shr) 43
- Daniel Blanc-Gonnet (Mon) 47