Statement made as Austin Forkner closes in on 250 points lead

Feld Entertainment Inc
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The 2019 Monster Energy Supercross season started perfectly for Austin Forkner. After winning five of the first six events and finishing third in the other race, it seemed like nothing could derail his effort of winning the 250 East championship. That is until he suffered a torn ACL at Nashville with two races remaining.

“Last year I felt like everything was going completely smooth,” Forkner told NBC Sports. “Everything was just running perfectly. I don’t know what it was about last year. After you win two or three races in row then you get confidence and you can do anything.

“It’s hard to beat anybody who has that much confidence. I have yet to go on a win streak this year. My confidence is good, but when you’re winning race after race after race, you just feel like nobody can touch you. That extra bit of confidence: the mind’s a powerful thing when you think like that.”

Forkner tried to return for East Rutherford near the end of the 2019 season, but his knee couldn’t stand up to the pressure. Losing the championship was more painful than the injury itself.

For 2020, Forkner has moved into the 250 West series and admitted to having extra pressure to perform in the opening race. Judged by his standards, Forkner felt he rode badly in the prelims. By the time the main rolled around, he found his rhythm. Last year’s near-champion challenged for the win before a mistake cost him the opportunity and sent him under the checkered flag third.

Forkner was credited with fifth after being penalized two positions for cutting the course.

On the heels of that disappointing race, Forkner needed to make a statement, which is just what he did the following week at St. Louis. He obliterated the field to score his first win of the season.

“I feel like I made the statement in St. Louis with a dominant race there,” Forkner said. “Then I had a bad race at Anaheim 2.”

Last week at Glendale, the clock reset. It was time to make another statement.

Forkner won the first two races of the first Triple Crown event of the season and became the first repeat 250 winner. An aggressive move on Christian Craig in the first race moved him to second. Then, he made short work of Alex Martin and sailed to the finish. Midway though the second race, he passed Derek Drake and won unchallenged. With one race remaining, he had two wins under his belt.

“It was just good to (run well at Glendale),” Forkner said. “It was really a statement race to myself – to have a bounce-back race. I was down in points too because I crashed at A2 and finished 17th. I was 22 points out, and then I went from 22 points out to 10 points out to the leader. … When you’re that far out of the lead, it’s like there is a big hole – and then it got cut in half, plus some. That has made everything a little easier.”

It wasn’t enough to win and make a statement to himself. Forkner needed to alert the competition. Never mind that he has only two wins in the first four races compared to a sweep of the podium last year at this juncture, he is still the rider to beat.

“The first two motos, I wanted to put it down and show those guys that I’m up there,” Forkner said. “That I’m not here to mess around; I’m here to get it done.

“It’s never good to think about not making a mistake; ‘don’t do what you did last week’. When you think like that, things happen. It’s better to just ride, and push, and try to go as fast as you can.”

The hard crash at Anaheim 2 lurked in Forkner’s memory. In that race he ran well until the incident cost him the victory.

In Glendale, he had a cushion by winning the first two motos, but another crash in back to back weeks would easily cost him the overall.

There were plenty of opportunities to crash. With only one more chance to make an impression, the start of race three was chaotic as riders vied for the holeshot.

“I didn’t get the greatest start (to race three),” Forkner said. “We were all kind of pinballing off each other the first couple of laps. It kind of spooked me a little bit I guess, so I was like ‘don’t do anything stupid. Don’t let anybody come and take you out’ and ruin my shot at the overall. Just ride my race and do what I have to do.”

Forkner found a safe place to ride and settled into a rhythm. Only then did he start to charge. Forkner knows that it is going to races like that to string victories together. There is a time to be aggressive and a time to bide one’s time.

“(It may seem like I’m more aggressive) because I’ve made more mistake this year than I did last year,” Forkner said. “A season like last season doesn’t happen very often. To win that many races. I’m not bummed about it, but I probably need to work on that a little bit, to try and get my mindset a little stronger and just start clicking off more consistent wins and everything else will come together after that.”

X44 Racing win 2022 Extreme E championship as Abt Cupra score first race victory

2022 Extreme E Uruguay
Extreme E
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Abt Cupra Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and Klara Andersson scored their first win in the Extreme E Energy X Prix in the 2022 finale in Uruguay as Lewis Hamilton’s X44 Vida Carbon Racing drivers Sebastien Loeb and Cristina Gutierrez survived a chaotic finale to edge the 2021 champion Rosberg X Prix team of Johan Kristoffersson and Mikhaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky, by two points.

“There are so many emotions,” Andersson said in Extreme E’s coverage. “I’ve been waiting for this for so long. In my second race, first full weekend to be at the top of the podium: it’s big.”

Andersson was behind the wheel at the finish.

Rosberg Racing entered the event with a 17-point advantage over X44, but the standings were close enough that four teams remained in contention in Round 5.

“It’s a crucial weekend for us,” Loeb said in Extreme E’s coverage prior to the race. “We are not in the best position to win the championship, but the only thing we can do is try to win the race and score as many points as possible.”

The top two title contenders each crashed in qualification and were relegated to the Crazy Race, Extreme E’s version of the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ). For the moment, they had the steepest hill to climb, but then the other two championship contending teams, Chip Ganassi Racing and Acciona Sainz Racing failed to advance from their heats.

Only one team advances from the Crazy Race, so the X44 drivers were in a must-win situation to simply keep hope alive.

More: Extreme E 2023 schedule

Ahlin-Kottulinsky and Gutierrez ran wheel to wheel into the first turn at the start of the LCQ.

The Rosberg racer experienced crash damage in that turn that damaged her front steering, but managed to limp back to the pits at the end of her two-lap stint. The team attempted to fix the steering, but incurred a penalty for having too many mechanics in the pit area.

Meanwhile, Gutierrez took the early lead, but knew she would need to sit through a five-second penalty for an incident earlier in the weekend. The female half of the gender equal pair erased the penalty by entering the Switch Zone with a five-second lead before turning the car over to Loeb.

That was all the nine-time World Rally Championship titlist needed to give him the advantage needed to win the Crazy Race.

But the championship was not over yet. X44 Racing needed to finish third or better in the five-car finale to earn enough points for the title and after advancing from the LCQ, they were forced to take the worst grid position.

A chaotic start to the Finale saw Loeb run as high the lead and low as fourth after getting pushed off course during his first lap. And that is how he entered to Switch Zone.

On her first lap, Gutierrez slammed into Molly Taylor. With one lap remaining, X44 and Gutierrez were still in fourth and the title hope was quickly evaporating, but it was announced halfway through the lap that the third-running Andretti United team would suffer a penalty for a Switch Zone infraction. The seven-second deduction for Timmy Hansen braking too late in the zone made the difference in the title.

Coming off a disappointing Copper X Prix when Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour crossed under the checkers first, but were relegated to fifth by penalty, the McLaren pair scored their first podium of the season in second.