Round 9 of the Monster Energy® AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship marks the halfway point to the series, hosting the first of two 250SX East/West Showdown races. The teams traveled south to Atlanta, Georgia where the Monster Energy®/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki riders placed their KX™250 motorcycles on the podium as Adam Cianciarulo captured the victory and Austin Forkner grabbed third place. Both Monster Energy Kawasaki riders Eli Tomac and Joey Savatgy finished in the top-10 of the 450SX class in sixth and ninth, respectively.
Cianciarulo kicked the day off by qualifying with the second fastest lap time in the 250SX Western Region and teammate Garrett Marchbanks in ninth. The team showed why they are leading the point standings from coast to coast as Forkner answered back by qualifying third in the Eastern Region and then going on to win the 250SX Eastern Region Heat race with Martin Davalos capturing third.
As the gate dropped on the 250SX East/West Showdown Main Event, it was Forkner who captured his fourth holeshot of the season, only to be challenged for the top spot by fellow Kawasaki rider and West points leader, Cianciarulo. The two red plate holders battled for multiple laps until Cianciarulo found a way to make a clean pass around his teammate to take over the lead midway through the race; he went on to take the checkers as Forkner fell back a position, but still landed on the podium in third. Davalos finished eighth, while Marchbanks took 20th after a minor crash towards the end of the race.
Between Cianciarulo and Forkner, the Kawasaki riders led all 20 laps of the showdown and leave Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which hosted this year's Super Bowl, as the points leader in each region.
"What a night, man! It felt good to be back on the bike and being able to race with all of my teammates this weekend. This win feels so good, especially when you consider how stacked the competition was. I'm proud of my teammates and our success, it's just a testament to how good our KX250 is this season and how dialed the entire Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki team has it. We put in so much work so it's great to see it pay off. We'll keep it going for the next few weeks and get ourselves ready for Seattle."
- Adam Cianciarulo
"It was fun being able to race with the West Coast riders this weekend, and it definitely provided a unique challenge out there. I'm pumped to get another heat win and podium finish under our belts and maintain the points lead heading into Daytona. I had a few tip overs in practice today, so my main goal tonight was to ride consistently and be patient going into the night show. It's not another win but we'll take it!"
- Austin Forkner
"It felt really good to be back in Atlanta, especially since some of my best finishes have been earned here. The bike felt good all night and I felt that my speed was there but with the shootout format and all of the riders in the mix made it a little more difficult. There is a lot of great talent out here so I'm proud of a top-10 position, but I'm always looking to improve. We'll get back to work and be ready for Daytona."
- Martin Davalos
"I caught a bit of bad luck in the main event tonight, but that's how racing goes sometimes. I'm glad I'm not injured and I was able to gain a few points still. We learned a lot this weekend and will make sure that we're ready to go for the next West Coast round."
- Garrett Marchbanks
In the 450SX Class, the Monster Energy Kawasaki riders also rode well in qualifying with Tomac clocking the fastest lap time and teammate Savatgy fifth. Both Kawasaki riders contended in Heat 2 alongside each other until Tomac, unfortunately, collided with another rider, setting him back to finish eighth. Savatgy was able to capitalize and maneuvered his way to finish fourth.
As the gate dropped on the 450SX Main Event, the 22-rider field was off to an aggressive start as both Kawasaki riders were wedged out from the front, forcing them to start outside of the top-10. Tomac wasted no time as he had already passed five competitors going from 13th to eighth halfway into the race. Tomac charged the field to finish sixth before running out of time, while Savatgy crossed the finish line in ninth.
"I was feeling great all day, especially with the fastest lap time in qualifying. I made a few errors in my heat race but still felt confident heading into the main, I just wasn't able to get out in front off the gate and it really cost me. I'm glad we were able to make up some positions and wrap up the first half of the season healthy. I'm really looking forward to Daytona next weekend, it's definitely one of my favorite tracks and a great one to kick off the second half of the series."
- Eli Tomac
"Another top-10 finish for my rookie year. I'm still learning quite a bit and adjusting to the longer, full season in the 450SX class. Obviously, I would like to be up on that podium but it's all about progress and I feel that's exactly what we continue to do each week. I'm looking forward to another round close to home and I've always loved racing Daytona, so I feel we have a real shot at a podium next weekend!"
- Joey Savatgy