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Images from the SX event in Indianapolis, IN

Flawless Forkner Stays Undefeated in Indy

Mar 172019

When he emerged on the Monster Energy Supercross scene in 2017, many considered Austin Forkner to be the sport’s next young superstar. His talent was obvious, and he showcased his potential almost immediately. While his consistency was up and down, it was only a matter of time before Forkner put it all together and became the rider we all expected him to be.

Six races into the 250SX East Region Championship, it’s pretty clear that Forkner is in the midst of this ascension. The Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki rider is undefeated in East Region competition, failing to take the checkered flag just once in 2019, during the East/West Showdown in Atlanta where he was bested by his teammate Adam Cianciarulo. Despite that, Forkner’s utter dominance over his fellow riders on the right coast has been something to behold.

Forkner’s starts have been spot on all season. He always begins each Main Event inside the top three, and his aggression in the opening laps has helped push him into the lead more often than not, leading all but three laps over the course of the East Region. Once he’s in control it’s been lights out, and as a result Forkner has a perfect 5-0 record standalone events, and a commanding lead in the championship. It seems no matter what his rivals do, they simply have no answer for the kind of riding Forkner displaying right now.

To see the meteoric rise of a budding star is something to behold, and in Indy we saw Forkner dig a little deeper in order to pull out yet another wire-to-wire victory. A little bit of adversity in his Heat Race left Forkner with his worst gate pick of the season, but it didn’t matter as he put his Kawasaki ahead of the pack and left everyone in his wake. He was untouchable en route to the seventh win of his career and heads into a brief break for the East Region within striking distance of clinching his first career pro title.

“I have been really confident with my starts that it didn’t matter my gate pick. No matter where I was, I was going to get to the [first] turn first. I was side by side with someone and made the pass stick right away. It helped me ride really smooth laps, which I wasn’t able to do in my Heat Race. I’m thankful I was able to ride my own race and not have to get too crazy. I’m thankful that I get some time to not have to travel and get better to close out the season.”

East Region 250SX Class

Entering Saturday’s race inside Lucas Oil Stadium, Forkner was a bit under the weather, and it provided a sense of uncertainty in regards to how hard he would be able to push throughout the afternoon and evening. That meant the door was open, albeit very slightly, for another rider to step up and stop the Forkner freight train. That proved to be wishful thinking as Forkner paced the qualifying sheets as the only 250SX rider to break into the 48-second bracket. All four Monster Energy riders secured a time inside the top six, with Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha’s Justin Cooper third, Forkner’s Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki teammate Martin Davalos fifth, and Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha’s Mitchell Oldenburg sixth.

Oldenburg was the lone Monster Energy rider in the first Heat Race of the night, and he made the first statement after the gate drop by surging into the early lead. He paced the field for several laps until Chase Sexton wrestled away the top spot from the Yamaha rider. Oldenburg stood tough and kept Sexton honest through to the finish, earning a runner-up result.

The remaining trio of Monster Energy riders highlighted the second Main Event, where Forkner emerged from the first turn with the lead, only to crash after misjudging his speed and getting into a tuff blox. Another rider ran over Forkner and there was a brief moment of concern as he gingerly returned to action, but it wasn’t long before he continued at full pace and started to climb his way up the standings, in search of a transfer spot.

Forkner’s misfortune opened the door for Kyle Peters to grab the lead, with Cooper and Davalos right behind him. Peters was able to fend off the Monster duo for a while, but it felt like a pass for the lead was inevitable. Cooper made his move with three laps to go and appeared to get around Peters, but the Suzuki rider countered, which not only kept Cooper behind him, but also allowed Davalos to move into second. On the following lap, Davalos made his move around Peters, with Cooper in town. The Monster Energy duo battled it out on the final lap, where Cooper got the best of Davalos to take the Heat Race win. Forkner was impressive in his comeback, fighting up to fifth.

It was going to be a challenge for Forkner to get the edge on his rivals in the Main Event, but the prowess of his starts this season was on full display when the No. 24 stormed into the first corner ahead of Oldenburg and Sexton and came away with the holehot and early lead. It proved to be the only advantage Forkner needed, as he immediately set sail and put some distance between he and the rest of the field.

The jockeying for position in the early laps saw Davalos move into third, right on the rear fender of Sexton, with Oldenburg settling into fifth. While all the rest of his Monster Energy counterparts were in the lead pack, Cooper had his work cut out for him on the heels of a bad start in which he began his Main Event well outside the top 10 in 14th. The second-year rider went to work immediately and broke into the top 10 in just a matter of one lap. He would continue a march forward.

As the race wore on, Davalos and Oldenburg started to engage in a battle for third. Just past the halfway part of the race, Oldenburg’s patience paid off and he got around his fellow Monster Energy rider to move into the final podium spot. This battle was far from over, however, as Cooper was on a tear. The Star Racing rider successfully moved into the top five with just a handful of laps remaining and put the pressure on Davalos and Oldenburg. Cooper made quick work of Davalos to take over fourth, and then set his sights on his teammate for third. Oldenburg fended off the pressure well, but on the final lap Cooper got around to snag third.

Forkner enjoyed yet another perfect Main Event to take his fifth win of the season by 6.2 seconds over Sexton. Cooper helped put a pair of Monster Energy riders on the podium in third, while Oldeburg and Davalos put all four members of the squad inside the top five. It was the most impressive collective performance to date this season for Monster Energy.

Forkner was untouchable en route to the seventh win of his career and heads into a brief break for the East Region, getting ever so closer to clinching his first professional title.

“I am so pumped to be heading into this break with a full race points lead. I got sick this week so I told myself tonight we were going to do damage control, and fortunately damage control tonight was good enough for another win. I am going to use this break to let my body rest, do some outdoor testing, and then get a nice base of supercross practice in before we get going again. The only thing on my mind right now is this championship and I would love to wrap it up before Vegas if possible, but regardless I am going to keep doing what I am doing because right now it is working for me.”

Eastern Regional 250SX Class Results
1. Austin Forkner, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki
2. Chase Sexton, Honda 
3. Justin Cooper, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha 
4. Mitchell Oldenburg, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha
5. Martin Davalos, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki 

Eastern Regional 250SX Class Standings
1. Austin Forkner, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki - 151
2. Chase Sexton, Honda - 125
3. Justin Cooper, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha - 123
4. Alex Martin, Suzuki - 92
5. Martin Davalos, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki - 89
6. Mitchell Oldenburg, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha - 88

450SX Class

Fresh off a dominant outing at Daytona, all eyes were on Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac as the 450SX Class headed to Indy. While he’s managed to capture a trio of wins this season, Tomac has yet to capitalize on the momentum and become the force we’re accustomed to seeing the past two seasons. 

Tomac was solid throughout the afternoon in qualifying, posting the fourth-best time, but it was his teammate Joey Savatgy who made the first statement of the day in Indy with the fastest lap, nearly breaking into the 47-second bracket. In his first race back from an injury that kept him out of action the past tow rounds, Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing’s Justin Barcia was 14th.

Both Tomac and Barcia found themselves in the first Heat Race. Tomac was solid off the start and settled into fourth place early on, while Barcia had his work cut our for him in 10th.  An intense battle for the lead between Dean Wilson, Marvin Musquin, and Ken Roczen headlined the Heat, while Tomac stayed out of the fray and held down fourth, without drama. As expected, Barcia successfully worked his way forward and while Wilson went on the take the win, Tomac and Barcia were pleased to earn relatively uneventful top-five results.

Savatgy was the lone rider in the second Heat Race and his tenacity was on full display. After starting fifth, Savatgy put his head down and made a charge, passing Chad Reed for fourt and Zach Osborne for third. While running third, Savatgy had the KTM’s of Blake Baggett and Cooper Webb within reach. As the KTM riders battled for the top spot, it allowed Savatgy to close in and eventually get around Baggett for second. Webb took the win, but Savatgy was right on his rear fender in second.

Confidence was high for the Monster Energy trio entering the Main Event, and a start would play a critical role in their chances for success. When the gate dropped to start the race, it was Musquin who emerged with the early lead while both Savatgy and Tomac placed themselves inside the top four. Barcia wasn’t too far behind in fifth.

Aggressiveness on the opening lap vaulted Savatgy into second, while Tomac followed him into third. They ran solidly on the podium for many laps until Savatgy made a mistake as he looked to apply pressure on Musquin. The rookie landed on the tuff blox after the finish and dropped just outside of the top five in sixth, which moved Tomac up into second and Barcia into fifth.

Tomac was the leader of a freight train of challengers that started to chip away at Musquin’s advantage. He worked his way to within striking distance of the lead over the course of the next 10 laps, with Baggett and Webb with him every step of the way. Baggett chose to seize the moment just past the halfway point and made an aggressive pass on Tomac that ultimately allowed Webb to follow through into third.

Musquin went wire-to-wire for his first win of the season, while Tomac settled for a solid fourth-place finish. Barcia capped off a strong return by following Tomac in fifth, while Savatgy minimized the damage from his early trouble to put all three Monster Energy riders in the top six.

Tomac’s top-five finish helps keep him in the thick of the title fight, where he’s third in the standings, 21 points out of the lead.

450SX Class Results
1. Marvin Musquin, KTM
2. Blake Baggett, KTM
3. Cooper Webb, KTM
4. Eli Tomac, Monster Energy Kawasaki
5. Justin Barcia, Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing
6. Joey Savatgy, Monster Energy Kawasaki

450SX Class Standings
1. Cooper Webb, KTM - 243
2. Marvin Musquin, KTM - 229
3. Eli Tomac, Monster Energy Kawasaki - 222
4. Ken Roczen, Honda - 216
5. Blake Baggett, KTM - 184
8. Joey Savatgy, Monster Energy Kawasaki - 141
10. Justin Barcia, Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing - 138
12.Aaron Plessinger, Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing - 123