The 2020 Monster Energy AMA Supercross season opened last night inside Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California. Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Austin Forkner and Monster Energy/Star Racing Yamaha’s Justin Cooper picked up right where they left off in the 2019 250SX East Region as the two battled back and forth all night.
While leading the main event, Forkner made a mistake and ran into a Tuff Blox at the end of a long rhythm section. He remounted his Kawasaki KX250 before going straight to the next section of the track, cutting off the turn and several seconds with the maneuver. He let Cooper’s teammate Dylan Ferrandis by before getting up to speed.
By that point, Cooper was too far ahead and the 22-year-old claimed his first career supercross main event win.
Ferrandis finished second and Forkner crossed the finish line third but was later docked two positions for his move, moving GEICO Honda's Christian Craig to third and Rockstar Energy Husqvarna's Michael Mosiman to fourth. Forkner was officially given fifth position. Jason Weigandt explained the ruling on Forkner earlier today.
All three riders spoke with the media after the race.
If you prefer the audio version of the press conference, you can listen below or subscribe via iTunes or your favorite podcast app by searching for the Racer X Podcast Network. The 250SX West Region podium starts off the press conference, followed by the 450SX podium.
Racer X: Austin, in that main event you had the lead. You and Justin kind of going a little bit back and forth in time, and had the mistake. Jumped off to the right there. What was going through your mind in the air? Did you know you were coming down on the blocks? Right there for the next five, ten seconds, what was your response to the mistake that you made? Didn’t obviously go down all the way, but somewhat kept it on two wheels. Just take us through those ten seconds or so.
Austin Forkner: Yeah, I thought I was going to go down. It just depends how you land on the Tuff Blox. Sometimes if you land on them, they’ll just roll and then the bike goes. But I didn’t land on them. I just scraped my pegs all the way until I finally just stopped. Then obviously I knew Justin was going to get by me. I didn’t really know who was back in third or fourth, but then Dylan came and got me. I was just trying to not fall all the way down. I kind of had to get off the bike. I shot to the left. If I would have turned around, I would have been… I could have turned around but I could see guys coming down the rhythm lane so I just went and entered the track I thought a pretty safe way. I kind of got Dylan back, so I waited and he went and then I just tucked in behind him and that was that.
So you knew that you had made the cut. It looked like you slowed down a little bit to make sure you went back to third.
Forkner: Yeah. I slowed up. In those situations it’s hard to know exactly the right thing to do. I knew that I was already pissed that I gave up the lead, and then second. I was like, just get back on the track and get back in the race, basically. It was just a quick decision. I thought I made the right decision. That decision is probably higher up than me, got to be made there, but whatever.
Dylan, you mentioned on the podium that the early laps you were maybe trying a little too hard, making some mistakes. Can you just take us back to those first few laps? You sat there in that five, six, seven spot for a couple laps. Was it the mistakes or just kind of figuring out where you were? It did take you a little while to get going and make those moves.
Dylan Ferrandis: Yeah. I start again and just see the guy in front. Tried to hurry up a little bit, maybe too much. Made some small mistakes and stuck in traffic. So lose a little bit of time. After when I was third I push, I push, but I just ride a little bit tight. During the main I rode a little bit tight. I think it’s just because it’s the first of the season, A1, and a lot of pressure, a lot of goals and stuff. Just a little bit disappointed, not about the result but more my riding because I should ride better. Second like last year. It’s a little bit disappointment for me. Last year start like this and finish with the championship, so we’ll see. We have nine races to go. We’ll see. All the lights are green. Just have to take the win next weekend.
Justin, last year you had podium finishes. You ran up front, but never were in a position to get the win, never got a win. Five minutes left or so in that main event, what are you thinking at that point, knowing that you’re about to close this thing out and get your first win? Not only of your career, but at Anaheim?
Justin Cooper: Yeah. You pretty much took the words right out of my mouth there. That’s kind of how it went. I was putting pressure on Austin. Just kind of seeing where I was faster and where I could try and make a pass at the end. He ended up making a mistake earlier than expected, so once that I happened I just didn’t slow down. If anything, I picked it up from that point on and just made sure I kept my gap and had a steady lead for the rest of the race. I kept looking at the timer. It was going down each lap like a minute. I was just trying not to focus too much on it, but it felt like a long race from there on out. To do it here is pretty special to me. It’s a big race. All the hype is around this. It’s a great way to start the season.
Justin and Austin, you guys race each other pretty aggressively. Maybe some tension? You guys get out there and you’re racing. When you start racing that way, Austin I see you look over, sometimes you start slowing down because you guys are almost riding defensively. Where do you find that line to keep plugging ahead instead of worrying about what the other guy is doing?
Forkner: When you get passed by the guy behind both of you, that’s the point where you’re messing around too much. The heat race thing, I was focused on Alex [Martin] and then I didn’t even know where he was. So that was just completely unexpected for me. You see it all the time. When you start playing cat and mouse with guys too much, and you start slowing down that much, and if somebody catches you, that’s the point where you guys are going to have to figure it out.
Cooper: It was just like a three-rider freight train. I went to set him up. I swept in after the triple and cut up the inside and went up the inside all the way up the rhythm. I think he heard me a couple jumps left and started moving over to the inside. By that point I was already committed and just went in, around the turn, and I guess there was no room left for him. So I really didn’t mean to take anyone down. Just trying to make a pass. That kind of stuff happens sometimes. Just move forward from it.
Austin, you had some words for him after that. Can you share any of those with us?
Forkner: I basically said that was a bold move for the first race of the season. It is what it is. I was mad about it. Should have just left, but oh well. Whatever.
So both of you guys raced East last year. Why did you go West this year?
Forkner: My team put me West. That’s why. We don’t really have a say. You go here, you go here. That’s just how it is on my team.
Cooper: It’s pretty much the same for me. They kind of wanted to split up Dylan and Shane. Felt like they had advantages. They’re established, successful riders in the 250 class. I’ve been ready. I’m not against being west at all. When you’re ready to go racing, you don’t want to hear that you’re prepping for A1, prepping for A1, then you’re like, you’re East. What do you do for the next six weeks? You’re like, I’m ready to go racing. I should be racing. That’s how I feel.
You had a little injury from Motocross of Nations. You were obviously ready to race west anyway, so just how did your off-season go? Did that set you back at all?
Cooper: I took four weeks off the bike. My hand got just smashed, so it didn’t feel right for that amount of time. No rush to get back on the bike. It was a long year. I think I was healed and I still wasn’t on the bike. Just was in no rush to get back on the bike at that point. Think I got back in November sometime and just had a good couple weeks on supercross and then really started feeling good in December. Been ready ever since. These last two or three weeks I’ve really felt like I’ve been coming into the season prepared. Last year in the east, it was kind of my rookie year. I wanted to be winning, but I just wasn’t good enough. I was trying too hard. I was making dumb moves and stuff like that because I wanted to be up there, but it really wasn’t there for me to take. So I came in more prepared this year and found I could win these with my skill level now. I’m confident in my riding and the team. It’s definitely good to get this confidence boost and know I can do it.
Austin, it’s nice to see you back racing after the summer off. You had the crash in practice. What was the injury? Was there any question whether you would be racing and lining up tonight?
Forkner: I don't think so. Those whoops were pretty chewed up. I was just trying to go fast through them. They were pretty close together. Just skipped one early. I was trying to set my front wheel on the third one and it went over the third one and down in, and just was kind of sketchy and then crashed. Just scuffed my back up, took the wind out of me. Rung my bell a little bit. It was all good. It wasn’t really like an if I was going to race or not, just if it was going to hurt to race. But I was fine. Unless you’re hurt that bad, everything usually numbs up when the gate drops.
Justin, winning your first supercross is a huge deal, but then the first thing everyone says is, “It’s a long season. I can’t get too high. I can’t get too low.” How do you balance that? Obviously you want to savor this a little bit, but you also can’t. What are your feelings on how you’re going to approach this into the week ahead?
Cooper: I’m on a high. I’m going to stay on a high. That’s all there is to it. Wherever it takes me from here is fine. It’s good to get the first one out of the way. It’s a good learning curve for me. Really happy with the way I rode tonight. I felt like I was patient. I felt like I hit all my marks. I felt like I was consistent. I’m just going to stay on a high all week, I guess you could say.
Dylan, you got a good start in the heat race. You seemed really happy about that. Your smile was big. Starts have been a problem coming into previous years. Did you feel coming into this race that you had that rectified? Or was the main event like, uh oh? Still got to go to the drawing board on that?
Ferrandis: I don't know. It’s a tough question. I was on the right of Austin and just got obviously holeshot and he closed the door. It was a bad situation. Sure, I was really proud to make a good start in the heat race because last year was really a problem, the starts. So we’ll see next weekend. One good, one bad. We’ll see what I can do next weekend on starts.
Dylan, as the defending champ, does that create more pressure to defend or take some off because you proved that you’re capable?
Ferrandis: Really both. For sure when you ride with the number one plate it’s adding some pressure, but I just try to stay focused on myself and don’t look at anything. It obviously was good until the main, but even the main was not so bad.