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Images from the 2019 Supercross event at Minneapolis, Minnesota
NEWS

Minneapolis Supercross Report

Feb 102019

Since he emerged on the professional scene during the summer of 2016, Austin Forkner has been dubbed as one of the sport’s brightest young talents, destined for success. Since then, there has been little doubt that Forkner possesses world-beating speed, but as with any up-and-comer, he’s had to refine his consistency. After two promising seasons of 250SX Class competition, now could very be the time in which the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki rider realizes his potential.

On Saturday night in a snowy Minneapolis Forkner was perfect, and he put the Eastern Regional 250SX Class on immediate notice at the opening round of that championship. He was fastest in practice, led every lap of his Heat Race, and went wire-to-wire in the Main Event to grab every bit of momentum to start the season.

The Missouri native earned the first two wins of his career last season, and went head-to-head with Zach Osborne in a hotly contested battle for the title. However, a late injury cut his season short and has since served as a major chip on his shoulder entering the 2019 season. That motivation has been the key to his offseason preparation, where he’s continued to develop under the tutelage of none other than the GOAT himself Ricky Carmichael. Forkner realizes that this is his moment, and based on what we saw inside US Bank Stadium, he’s not bout to waste it.

Forkner’s triumph was already the fifth 250SX Class win for Monster Energy in six races, continuing what has been a truly dominant start to the 2019 regional championships.

Eastern Regional 250SX Class

 

The lineup of Monster Energy riders in the East Region features a veteran anchor surrounded by young talent. While Forkner is arguably the hot shot of the four-rider group, he’s flanked at Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki by Martin Davalos, while Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha consists of Justin Cooper and Mitchell Oldenburg.

 

All four riders placed themselves amongst the top seven in qualifying, with Forkner and Cooper sitting 1-2, separated by just a couple tenths. Oldenburg slotted into fifth, while Davalos landed seventh. 

 

When the night show rolled around, optimism was high for all four riders. Cooper was the lone representative in the first Heat Race, and he rode safe and consistent en route to a third place finish. Due to the nature of how the track inside US Bank Arena deteriorated, it developed into a one-line layout where passing was at a premium. So while Cooper’s third-place start provided an opportunity to challenge for the lead, it simply wasn’t worth forcing the issue in the few passing opportunities available.

 

That trend emerged in the second Heat Race, to the benefit of Forkner and Oldenburg. The Monster Energy pair started first and second out the gate and never looked back. Davalos wasn’t far behind in fourth, but misfortune on the opening lap dropped him back several positions. As expected, the veteran was able to recover and worked his way back into contention for the top five. Forkner easily kept his spot up front, with Oldenburg in tow. Davalos rebounded to finish sixth.

 

The stage was set for a collectively impressive outing from the Monster Energy squad, but an even further deteriorated track meant the start would be make or break for virtually the entire field. As the field roared into the first turn, Forkner was able to slip ahead and grab the holeshot and jump out to an early lead. To the delight of the Pro Circuit effort, Davalos started right behind his teammate in second. The Yamaha duo of Cooper and Oldenburg both had their work cut out for them, starting in seventh and 13th, respectively.

 

The clear track and an early push of pace allowed Forkner to quickly put some distance between he and Davalos, who was forced to battle with Alex Martin and Jordon Smith. The Ecuadorian did his best to hold them off, but his hopes of landing on the podium were all but erased on Lap 4 when Martin and Davalos made contact, putting the Kawasaki in the dirt. He was able to reenter, but continued to lose positions.

 

As the race wore on, Cooper began his march up the standings. With just one race under his belt following an abrupt end to his rookie season in 2018, Cooper is still acclimating to racing on the technical confines of the country’s football and baseball stadiums, but you wouldn’t have guessed it based on how well he rode in Minneapolis. He broke into the top five a quarter of the way through the 15-minute race and suddenly found himself running third after both Jordon Smith and Chase Sexton went down. A hard-charging Smith dropped Cooper to fourth, but the New Yorker didn’t quit. With a shot at his first career podium in just his second supercross start Cooper showed tremendous patience running behind Martin. In the waning minutes of the race he made his move with an impressive pass and never looked back.

 

The Main Event was as uneventful as it gets for Forkner out front, but in the best way possible. He was never challenged and eventually established a double-digit lead he’d maintain until dropping the pace on the final lap. It was the best ride of Forkner’s career, and he took the checkered flag six seconds ahead of Smith, while Cooper rallied to earn his first career podium in third.

 

“At the start of the day I was really pumped to be back racing and I was making some silly mistakes in practice,” said Forkner. “We were able to talk and get me a little more under control and I felt great there in the Heat Race and Main (Event). I felt good the past few weeks at the test track, but you never know how that will stack up at the first race. I’m so pumped to have the red plate and I will do what I can to keep it.”

 

It’s the third consecutive win for Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki, following the back-to-back victories for Adam Cianciarulo in the West Region. The team also has possession of the red number plate in each championship. 

 

Monster Energy also continued its dominant start to the season, where it has put two riders on the podium at every 250SX Class race this season.

 

Oldenburg enjoyed a strong come-from-behind ride of his own, fighting his way into the top 10 and narrowly missing out on a top-five finish in sixth. Davalos’ misfortune-plagued season opener wrapped up with a 16th-place finish.

 

Eastern Regional 250SX Class Results

1. Austin Forkner, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki

2. Jordon Smith, KTM

3. Justin Cooper, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha 

4. Alex Martin, Suzuki

5. Chase Sexton, Honda

6. Mitchell Oldenburg, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha

16. Martin Davalos, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki

 

Eastern Regional 250SX Class Standings

1. Austin Forkner, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki - 26

2. Jordon Smith, KTM - 23

3. Justin Cooper, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha - 21

4. Alex Martin, Suzuki - 19

5. Chase Sexton, Honda - 17

6. Mitchell Oldenburg, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha - 17

16. Martin Davalos, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki - 7

450SX Class

 

It was a long time coming, but Eli Tomac’s big San Diego win, his first of the season, also put him in possession of the red plate as the 450SX Class’ championship leader. That meant the target was on the back of the Monster Energy Kawasaki rider in a season that has seen incredible parity and a hot-potato-like rotation of point leaders. The Colorado native was undefeated inside US Bank Stadium, so it was easy to think the trend of dominance that has defined Tomac’s last two seasons of supercross competition would continue now that he was in control of the championship.

 

However, with the aforementioned track conditions making it difficult for riders to gain ground and make passes, a poor start for Tomac proved to hinder his chances at a repeat victory, and took his hold of the points away with it. While this put a bit of a damper on things in the premier division, Minneapolis proved to be the coming out party for Monster Energy Kawasaki rookie Joey Savatgy.

 

Things got off to a hot start for the Kawasaki duo after they posted the top two times in qualifying, where Savatgy led the way. Fellow Monster Energy riders Justin Barcia and Aaron Plessinger were ninth and 14th, respectively, aboard their Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing machines.

 

Tomac and Plessinger were featured in the first Heat Race, where both riders took advantage of strong starts to post top-four finishes. Tomac was forced to settle for second, but he kept Cooper Webb within reach throughout the entirety of the race. Plessinger’s fourth-place finish was an improvement after starting fifth.

 

In the second Heat Race Savatgy was unable to capitalize on his first gate pick and ended up starting in seventh, just a couple spots behind Barcia. While Justin Brayton controlled the entirety of the race out front, it was Barcia and Savatgy who turned heads. Despite the difficulty passing, both riders’ aggression carried them to the front, where Barcia finished in second and Savatgy fought his way up to third.

 

With all four riders posting top-four finishes in their Heats, the Monster Energy foursome was poised for a strong showing in the Main Event, but that success would be predicated on their ability to get out of the gate. When the 22-rider field stormed across the stadium and into the first turn, Savatgy was barely edged out by Webb for the holeshot. However, the rookie was relentless and fought his way to the front for the first time in his 450 career. Behind him, Barcia started in sixth, while Plessinger and Tomac were mired in 15th and 16th, respectively.

 

With the opportunity to lead, the confidence that carried Savatgy to the fasted time of the afternoon was on full display. While Webb, Ken Rozen, and Blake Baggett were breathing down his neck, Savatgy continued to hit his marks and maintained his hold of the lead with the poise of a veteran. He was virtually unflappable, and while he was unable to break away from his challengers, he showed no issue keeping them at bay. As this continued to unfold, Tomac was making a slow, yet methodical climb through the field. It was difficult for the point leader to surge forward in the track conditions, but he bided his time and took advantage of opportunities as they presented themselves.

 

Out front, Savatagy started to make small mistakes that allowed Webb to really apply the pressure, but none of them sere significant enough to give Webb an opening. On Lap 14, Savatgy bobbled and was thrown off the ideal line in a rhythm section, which allowed Webb to slip past. Savatgy made a couple more mistakes in the ensuing laps and soon dropped off the podium. His teammate continued to move forward and in the late stages of the race Tomac found himself just outside the top five. Barcia and Plessinger fought valiantly as well to maintain their spots inside the top 10.

 

Webb’s late pass carried him to victory, with Roczen and Musquin completing the podium. While his career-best fourth-place finish was bittersweet given how great he was riding, leading 14 of 26 laps, Savatgy was still the story of the Main Event with a breakout performance. Tomac did well to recover from a terrible start and finished sixth, salvaging extremely valuable championship points. Both Barcia and Plessinger helped put all four Monster Energy riders inside the top 10, finishing ninth and 10th, respectively.

 

While Tomac lost control of the point lead, he’s still very much in the thick of the title fight, just two points out of the lead in a tie for third. Barcia sits on a solid sixth, with Plessinger ninth. Savatgy’s result moved him up to 14th, where he continues to fight back from a missed race earlier this season.

 

450SX Class Results

1. Cooper Webb KTM

2. Ken Roczen, Honda

3. Marvin Musquin, KTM

4. Joey Savatgy, Monster Energy Kawasaki

5. Justin Brayton, Honda

6. Eli Tomac, Monster Energy Kawasaki

9. Justin Barcia, Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing

10. Aaron Plessinger, Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing

 

450SX Class Standings

1. Ken Roczen, Honda - 125

2. Cooper Webb, KTM - 124

3. Eli Tomac, Monster Energy Kawasaki - 123

4. Marvin Musquin, KTM - 123

5. Dean Wilson, Husqvarna – 95

6. Justin Barcia, Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing - 88

9. Aaron Plessinger, Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing - 79

14. Joey Savatgy, Monster Energy Kawasaki - 59

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