Since he turned pro, Forkner has shown numerous flashes of brilliance. There is no doubt that he holds a bright future in the sport, but his all out approach whenever he takes to the track has proven costly at times. Like many other young riders overflowing with talent, Forkner can’t resist going full tilt anytime he’s navigating the layout. He’s a racer, and his competitive nature doesn’t allow for anything less than 100 percent. However, when a rider constantly toes the line of control and chaos, at some point he’s going to push it too far, and for Forkner, it led to several frightening crashes in both qualifying and the races. The most notable incident of them all is what ultimately cost Forkner the title last season, and forced him to sit idle for months.
At the opening round in Anaheim, Forkner escaped injury after a scary tumble in the whoops during qualifying. After a strong-yet-frustrating opening Main Event, the Monster rider made it a point to learn from his past miscues moving forward. In the past, Forkner wanted to be on top of the charts, no matter what the circumstance was. He’s hands down one of the fastest and most confident riders in the 250SX Class, so it was natural to have the mindset to “win” everything, not just the race. Under this new approach, he would place less emphasis on topping the time sheets in practice, instead focusing on getting as comfortable as possible on the bike in order to be that much better in the Heat Race and Main Event.
Armed with his new strategy, Forkner posted the third-fastest time in qualifying, but proceeded to dominate both his Heat Race and the Main Event. In a matter of just one weekend, Forkner was able to prove that the “less is more” mantra can pay big dividends when it matters most, and it shows the maturity he possesses at this point in his career. While we still consider Forkner a “young gun,” he has three seasons of 250SX Class competition under his belt and is nearing the end of his career in the small displacement. He’s more of a veteran than an up and comer, and with that experience comes a natural maturity, simply looking at things from a more practical standpoint.
Watching the championship slip away due to his own mistake surely had a big impact on Forkner, and he’s come into 2020 looking to take care of some unfinished business. With a dominant race win under his belt, Forkner is poised to build some momentum in his chase of a first ever professional title.
While Forkner was able to enjoy the spoils of victory, Justin Cooper took care of business as well aboard his Monster Energy Star Yamaha Racing machine. The opening round winner and championship leader showed no signs of pressure in carrying the red plate for the first time. He didn’t get a great start in the Main Event, but he methodically worked his way forward and was able to fight his way into second, giving him 1-2 finishes to start the season.
With an undefeated start to the season, and back-to-back 1-2 finishes in the first two Main Events of 2020, Monster Energy will look to keep the ball rolling at Anaheim 2.
Western Regional 250SX Class Results
1. Austin Forkner, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki
2. Justin Cooper, Monster Energy Star Yamaha Racing
3. Brandon Hartranft, KTM
12. Dylan Ferrandis, Monster Energy Star Yamaha Racing
DNS Cameron McAdoo, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki
Western Regional 250SX Class Standings
1. Justin Cooper, Monster Energy Star Yamaha Racing - 49
2. Austin Forkner, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki - 44
3. Brandon Hartranft, KTM - 37
4. Dylan Ferrandis, Monster Energy Star Yamaha Racing - 34
14. Cameron McAdoo, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki - 17