Atlanta signified the first time competitors in the East Region competed under the dramatic Triple Crown format, and the battle for victory didn’t disappoint. Forkner was the second fastest rider in qualifying, right behind fellow Monster Energy rider Dylan Ferrandis, but he wasn’t the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki rider who made his presence felt at the drop of the first Main Event.
Martin Davalos stormed to the holeshot and appeared to have more than enough pace to carry that advantage through to the finish, but a miscue coming out of a corner put the veteran in between lanes on the ground, and out of contention for the win. That allowed points leader Zach Osborne to assume control of the lead, which he would not relinquish, while Ferrandis settled into second aboard his Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha. After starting sixth, Forkner had his work cut out for him. He quickly got around fellow Monster Energy rider Colt Nichols’ Star Yamaha, and eventually moved into fourth.
Osborne took an easy win ahead of Ferrandis, with Jordon Smith third and Forkner in fourth. Nichols was fifth, while Davalos was able to recover to finish eighth.
The two Kawasaki riders put themselves at the front of the field to start the second Main Event, as Forkner took the holeshot and early control of the race. Davalos settled into third behind Osborne. Forkner and Osborne soon engaged in a heated battle for the lead, which culminated in perhaps the most controversial moment of the night. As Forkner’s momentum carried him towards Osborne through a rhythm section, the two appeared to come together as they entered the corner. Osborne’s evasive action took him to the ground, as his bike briefly tangled with Forkner’s. While Osborne was forced to pick up his bike, Forkner continued on but had Davalos hot on his rear fender. The teammates went head-to-head for the win, and Davalos patiently waited until the final lap to make his move for a redemption victory.
Osborne recovered to finish third, while both Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha riders were struck with misfortune. Nichols experienced trouble on the opening lap and did well to claw his way from 20th and finish 11th. Unfortunately, Ferrandis’ night came to an end on Lap 2 when he crashed out of competition while running fifth.
The third and final Main Event began with intrigue as an incident on the opening lap mired Osborne back in 16th. Out front, Jeremy Martin led Davalos and Nichols, while Forkner was forced to fight from ninth. In his pursuit of the lead, Davalos suffered another crash, which took him out of contention and allowed Nichols to take over the position. Forkner was able to make quick progression into the top five, and soon the battle for the overall victory came down to he and Osborne, who made quick work through the field as well.
It wasn’t until Forkner made a pass on RJ Hampshire for third that the win was within his grasp. Martin led wire-to-wire for the Main Event win, while Nichols ended his night on a high note in second. Forkner’s third-place finish put him into a tie with Osborne, who finished fifth, in the overall classification, but by virtue of his higher finish in the final Main Event Forkner emerged victorious.
“The (Triple Crown) format is really fast and it makes that final race pretty crazy. We did know where we needed to be in that final race to end up on the podium or get a win, but I saw my mechanics’ pit board with two laps to go and knew I needed to get by the rider in front of me. It’s really cool to take the win and make up even more points. There is a lot of racing left and I think I’m really going to like Daytona.”
Forkner was joined on the overall podium by Osborne and Jordon Smith, and has closed to within just two points of Osborne for the championship lead. Nichols’ runner-up finish in the final Main Event vaulted him to sixth overall. Davalos was eighth, while Ferrandis was 17th.
East Region 250SX Class Results
1. Austin Forkner, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki
2. Zach Osborne, Husqvarna
3. Jordon Smith, KTM
4. RJ Hampshire, Honda
5. Jeremy Martin, Honda
6. Colt Nichols, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha
8. Martin Davalos, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki
17. Dylan Ferrandis, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha
East Regional 250SX Class Standings
1. Zach Osborne, Husqvarna – 70
2. Austin Forkner, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki – 68
3. RJ Hampshire, Honda – 57
4. Jordon Smith, KTM – 55
5. Colt Nichols, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha – 54
9. Dylan Ferrandis, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha – 34
10. Martin Davalos, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki – 34
Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac was the talk of the premier division entering Atlanta, and was on a quest for three straight wins in his continued championship comeback. Additionally, Monster Energy rider Cooper Webb was also grabbing attention with his recent progression for Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing. Both riders were hoping to keep the momentum going in the second Triple Crown event of the 450SX Class season.
Neither Tomac nor Webb got the start they wanted in the opening Main Event and were forced to battle through the field as Christian Craig took the early lead. Tomac’s trademark aggression helped him move up quickly, and he moved from ninth to fifth in a matter of three laps. Webb looked to follow Tomac forward, but he came together with Weston Peick on Lap 3 and dropped to the tail end of the running order. Out front, Craig led for half of the Main Event before giving up the lead to Justin Brayton, who fended off a late challenge from points leader Jason Anderson to take the win. Blake Baggett followed in third, while Tomac looked to build off a fifth-place effort. Webb recovered well from his incident and finished 14th.
The Monster Energy duo turned their fortunes around to start the second Main Event, following early leader Anderson in second and third. Webb stalked Anderson throughout the course of the race, and continued to look for ways around. Their pace allowed the lead duo to open a gap on Tomac, who settled solidly into third. On the final lap Webb applied heavy pressure and pushed to force a mistake out of Anderson. The Yamaha rider dove to the inside in the final corner and came just about a bike length short from capturing his first win. Tomac went unchallenged for third.
Tomac and Webb showcased more of that same pace in the crucially important final Main Event. Christian Craig was once again able to take early control of the race, but it wasn’t long before he came under fire from Marvin Musquin and gave up the top spot to the Frenchman. Webb and Tomac started fifth and sixth, and together they made a gradual climb into podium position. After getting by Webb early, Tomac made a highlight-worthy save in pursuit of Anderson for second. He gathered himself and remounted a charge that allowed him to take over the runner-up spot at the halfway point. Just one lap later Webb made an impressive pass on Anderson for third. Tomac closed in on Musquin for the lead in the late stages of the Main Event, but was forced to settle for second, with Webb following in third.
Anderson preserved his control of the championship with the overall victory, but it was Tomac and Webb that left the biggest impression on the field with how impressively the Monster Energy riders closed out the final pair of Main Events. Tomac extended his podium streak to three races in third, while Webb’s bounce back from 14th in the first Main Event helped land him sixth. Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Tyler Bowers finished 14th overall in his second race for the team.
Tomac’s climb up championship standings continued, breaking into the top five for the first time, 70 points behind Anderson. Webb moved up as well and now sits seventh.
450SX Class Results
1. Jason Anderson, Husqvarna
2. Marvin Musquin, KTM
3. Eli Tomac, Monster Energy Kawasaki
4. Justin Brayton, Honda
5. Christian Craig, Honda
6. Cooper Webb, Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing
14. Tyler Bowers, Monster Energy Kawasaki
450SX Class Standings
1. Jason Anderson, Husqvarna – 207
2. Marvin Musquin, KTM – 165
3. Blake Baggett , KTM – 150
4. Justin Brayton, Honda – 144
5. Eli Tomac, Monster Energy Kawasaki – 137
7. Cooper Webb, Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing – 125
10. Justin Barcia, Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing – 113
13. Josh Grant, Monster Energy Kawasaki – 83
17. Tyler Bowers, Monster Energy Kawasaki – 60