Marc Freixa Claims US Title At Colorado MotoTrials

Freixa tops Smage for 2016 title

Marc Freixa, Colorado MotoTrials 2016
Marc Freixa gets through the toughest section on Saturday, section two.Photo By Shan Moore

The SWM US National Championship MotoTrials Series came to an exciting conclusion this weekend in Canon City, Colorado, where the final two rounds of the eight-round series played out at Stock Ranch, a popular trials venue.

Pat Smage, Colorado MotoTrials 2016c
Pat Smage came back from a bad day on Saturday to nearly win Sunday's event.Photo By Shan Moore

Held at over 5,000 feet in elevation, the event marked a stark contrast to last week’s wet and slippery terrain in Oregon, as the Colorado event featured dry terrain with grippy rocks. And while the outcome was the same as last week, where Marc Freixa easily took the win on both days of competition, the Spaniard had to work for every inch of his victories in Colorado, especially on Sunday.

Freixa’s win on Saturday gave the Montesa/Honda USA rider enough points to clinch the 2016 US National MotoTrials title, since only the best seven of eight rounds are counted towards the championship.

“At first everything was new and different, but after riding several rounds I feel more at home and I have enjoyed competing in the American series,” said the former number three rider in the world.

Andrew Putt, Colorado MotoTrials 2016
Andrew Putt beat Pat Smage for the first time on Saturday.Photo By Shan Moore

Saturday’s event featured a good mixture of sections: a few easy ones, several hard ones, and a couple that were some of the most challenging the riders had seen all year. In fact, section two might have been an omen for some of the Pro riders, as only Freixa saw the exit cards on the first lap with a three-point ride, while the rest of the contingent left the section with a five.

Freixa turned in a four-point card at the end of lap one. Andrew Putt (Team RYP/Zip Express/Dunlop/Maxima/Sherco) followed with a score of eight, while eight-time US MotoTrials Champion Pat Smage (Team RYP/Zip Express/Dunlop/Maxima/Sherco) finished the lap with two fives and two ones for a total of 12.

Freixa shaved a point off his first lap score to finish lap two with three points. Both Smage and Putt improved as well, with Smage coming in with just five points, and Putt with six.

Smage dropped two more fives on the final lap and finished the lap with 11, compared to five each for Freixa and Putt.

When the cards were tallied, Freixa scored Saturday’s win with a three-lap total of 12 points, with Putt in second another seven points back. Smage finished up with a total of 28 for third place.

Karl Davis, Jr., Colorado MotoTrials 2016
Karl Davis Jr. throws himself at a tricky ledge during Saturday's event.Photo By Shan Moore

Putt’s runner-up finish marked the first time the Pennsylvania rider had beaten Smage.

“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.”

Smage gave Putt credit for his good finish.

“I’m really surprised he didn’t beat me sooner,” said Smage. “I’ve been watching him ride and he’s improved tremendously.”

Gas Gas USA’s Alex Niederer finished the day in fourth with a total of 62 points, edging out Karl Davis Jr. (Team RYP/Zip Express/Dunlop/Maxima/Scorpa) by two points.

Smage was back on his game on Sunday and with the weight of the championship chase off their shoulders, both Smage and Freixa lit up the big and intimidating sections with sizzling two-point totals on their first lap. Putt was hot on the trail, as well, and finished the opening lap with just three points.

Smage gained a point on Freixa on lap two, the Sherco rider finishing with another two-point lap, with Freixa coming in with three. Putt suffered a three in the pivotal 12th section and turned in a score of six.

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.

Alex Niederer, Colorado MotoTrials 2016
Alex Niederer went 4-5 over the course of the weekend.Photo By Shan Moore

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.”

Logan Bolopue, Colorado MotoTrials 2016
The Colorado event consisted mostly of giant rocks with an occasional log. Logan Bolopue demonstrates.Photo By Shan Moore

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.

For more information on US MotoTrial please visit www.mototrials.com.

RESULTS

Saturday

  1. Marc Freixa (Mon) 12

  2. Andrew Putt (Shr) 19

  3. Pat Smage (Shr) 28

  4. Alex Niederer (GG) 62

  5. Karl Davis Jr. (Sco) 64

  6. Daniel Blanc-Gonnet (Mon) 73

  7. Logan Bolopue (Shr) 84

  8. Sam Fastle (Shr) 93

Sunday

  1. Marc Freixa (Mon) 7

  2. Pat Smage (Shr) 9

  3. Andrew Putt 14

  4. Karl Davis Jr. (Sco) 63

  5. Alex Niederer (GG) 78

  6. Daniel Blanc-Gonnet (Mon) 80

  7. Logan Bolopue (Shr) 90

  8. Sam Fastle (Shr) 102