Monster Energy Kawasaki came into the 2017 Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM Championship season opener in Anaheim, California feeling strong and rejuvenated. Eli Tomac came out swinging, picking up where he left off from the Monster Energy Cup by winning his heat race in impressive fashion. At the gate drop of the Main Event, the hard charging Kawasaki rider found himself third coming out of Turn 1. Tomac would race in the lead pack throughout the 20 minute, plus one lap Main Event, taking fifth at the checkers.
“The day started off great”, said Tomac. “Qualifying second calmed my nerves and allowed me to enter the night show with a level head. The main started off well but around the halfway point my arms tightened up and I began slipping back a bit. We’ll come back swinging at Round 2.”
His teammate Josh Grant took the long way to the Main Event, with a win in the Last Chance Qualifier. A poor gate selection in the Main Event saw Grant start 11th and quickly put his KX450F inside the top-10. Grant rode consistently strong laps to finish ninth.
“My day didn’t quite go as planned after having to qualify out of the Last Chance Qualifier,” said Grant. It is always so hard to concentrate at A1 because I’ve got the added pressure of all my family and friends here watching. I’m looking forward to moving on to next week and having everything settle down a bit.”
Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki arrived at Angel Stadium for The start of the Monster Energy Supercross 250SX Western Region season with Justin Hill retuning to the team and Austin Forkner making his supercross debut. Forkner and Hill transferred to the Main Event through 250 Heat 1 with a second and third respectively. As the gate dropped on the first race of the season, Forkner rounded the Turn 1 in 10th with Hill just behind him. By the time the duo finished their first lap Forkner was eighth and Hill ninth. The two moved their way through the pack as they pushed each other forward, until the battle came into the whoops and Forkner went down to the ground. Forkner would remount in 16th and waste no time charging back towards the front. Hill continued moving forward to fifth place where he would remain until the checkers. With 10 minutes remaining Forkner had raced back into the top 10, and with 30 seconds left he made back to back passes, earning an 8th place finish in his debut.
“My first Monster Energy Supercross went pretty well,” said Forkner. “I crossed the line second in my heat which was good experience for me. In the main I didn’t get the start I wanted but was moving forward pretty quickly. A few laps in I was passed in the whoops and had to let off to avoid a collision, which put me in the dirt. I got up, got back in the race and worked my way forward. I threw down the fastest lap of the race and was right on pace with the leaders until the checkers, so all in all I’m pretty happy with my performance.”
“I felt really good all day,” said Hill. “My practice times were pretty good and qualifying went well, but at the end of the day I still have some work to do. I need to improve my fitness and to make my riding more fluid so it’s easier to race at the pace I’m capable of. It’s difficult when I know I have the speed and the bike to be at the front but I come home fifth. I’ll take this as motivation, go home and put the work in.”