Marc Freixa clinched the 2016 SWM U.S. National Championship MotoTrials Championship title with a sweep of the series finale in Canon City, Colorado, June 25-26, where the Spaniard held off stiff challenges from Sherco USA teammates Pat Smage and Andrew Putt.
Held at over 5,000 feet in elevation, the event featured the usual technical terrain for a Colorado event, and was a stark contrast to last week’s event held in Oregon Trials, where the sections were wet and slick.
Freixa was expected to dominate the series from the get-go, since he was the number three-ranked rider in the world for three straight years. However, the Montesa/Honda rider has been retired from world-caliber competition for seven years, and Smage was able to take two wins from him early in the series and nearly pulled off the win on the final day in Colorado.
MotoTrials Day One – Saturday
Saturday’s event featured some pretty tough sections. In fact, two riders saw the exit cards all day: Freixa and Putt.
After three laps of 12 sections, Freixa took Saturday’s win with a total of 12 points. Putt finished second another seven points back, giving the Pennsylvania rider his first-ever win over Smage. Meanwhile, Smage rounded out the podium with a total of 28.
“This was definitely my best ride of the year,” said Putt. “I knew it was going to be a tough but close event and I was finally able to put three good laps together. It was good to finally beat Pat.”
MotoTrials Day Two – Sunday
Smage was back on his game on Sunday, and actually led Freixa by one point heading into the final lap. The Sherco rider put himself in good position to take the win by cleaning every section up to the 12th and final section, where he lost his focus and fived the exit. That was just the break Freixa needed, and when the Honda rider got through the final section with a one, he was able to take the win by two points over Smage.
Smage led Freixa by a point heading into the final lap and put himself in good position to take the overall win by cleaning every section heading into the 12th and final section of the day. However, the eight-time national champ came up just short in his bid for the win when he fived section 12 at the exit, leaving him with nine points for the day.
Freixa got through the final section with a safe one and finished the lap with two points for a total of seven points for the day, squeaking out the win by two points over Smage.
Putt got through section 12 with a two, and combined with a three in section four, finished the lap with five points. His total of 14 was good enough for third.
Freixa was relieved to get his sixth win of the season.
“Saturday was better for me because there was the tension of the championship and I had more focus, today I was more relaxed and it took more effort so I was more tired,” said Freixa.
Smage was disappointed at just missing out on the win, but was happy to have taken two wins from Freixa earlier in the year.
“When I first heard Freixa was coming over I was ready to just hand him the championship because I knew how good he was,” said Smage. “So being able to get a couple of wins off of someone who was third in the world three years running, and then to push him today feels really good.”
Putt kept the pressure on the two front-runners all day and was there to pounce if either of them faltered.
“I found myself getting hung up in section three, which hurt me,” said Putt. “I gave away five points in that section to Marc and Pat, but overall I am happy with the day. I was in the running and finished just five points off of Pat and seven away from Marc.”
Davis turned the tables on Niederer on Sunday, beating his fellow Floridian by 15 points for fourth with Niederer settling for fifth.
Montesa/Honda USA’s Daniel Blanc-Gonnet was sixth on both days, and said he felt like he was just getting up to speed with the four-stroke Montesa, which he just started riding a week before the season opener. Meanwhile, Pennsylvania’s Logan Bolopue (Team RYP/Zip Express/Dunlop/Maxima/Sherco) was seventh on each day, beating out New Mexico’s Sam Fastle (Team RYP/Zip Express/Dunlop/Maxima/Sherco), who finished ninth each day.
In the final standings, Freixa’s best seven rides totaled 205 points, followed by Smage with 185 and Putt with 151. Davis was fourth overall in 2016 with Niederer rounding out the top five.
U.S. National Championship MotoTrials Championship
Canon City, Colorado
RESULTS: June 25-26, 2016
- Marc Freixa (Mon) 12
- Andrew Putt (Shr) 19
- Pat Smage (Shr) 28
- Alex Niederer (GG) 62
- Karl Davis Jr. (Sco) 64
- Daniel Blanc-Gonnet (Mon) 73
- Logan Bolopue (Shr) 84
- Sam Fastle (Shr) 93
- Marc Freixa (Mon) 7
- Pat Smage (Shr) 9
- Andrew Putt 14
- Karl Davis Jr. (Sco) 63
- Alex Niederer (GG) 78
- Daniel Blanc-Gonnet (Mon) 80
- Logan Bolopue (Shr) 90
- Sam Fastle (Shr) 102
For more information on the MotoTrials Championship, click HERE