Austin Forkner's Supercross Title Hopes are Once Again Put on Hold Due to Injury
An ACL tear in 2019, several abdominal injuries from just one crash in 2020, a broken collarbone in 2021, which he broke again less than a year later, and a separate shoulder injury in 2022. I don't know if I've ever seen an athlete be this snake bitten with injuries to the degree that Austin Forkner has. More so in this little time. During that 2019 250 East stint, he was untouchable before that qualifying crash in Nashville. Forkner had won five of his first six Main Events, with his lone loss coming at Atlanta in a showdown round. Only Adam Cianciarulo and Dylan Ferrandis outran him that night. From there on, it's been one injury after another for the highly touted 250 rider.
Forkner's injury woes wouldn't be a thing of the past in 2023, as he took a nasty spill off the Main Event gate drop after some incidental contact with R.J. Hampshire. Not even a full five seconds into the first Main Event of the year, Forkner's season came to a screeching halt. Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki confirmed Tuesday evening that a knee injury will keep him out for the rest of the Supercross season. While Forkner later that evening confirmed a slew of ailments, most notably a torn ACL.
Statements and the Road to Recovery
Forkner took to Instagram a little bit after the official news dropped, and you can tell that he's super bummed out, and how can you blame him? The physical toll of these injuries is one thing, but this many years consecutively getting hurt has to take a massive toll on your mental health, and I hope Forkner gets the support he needs in these next few weeks/months.
One supporter that Forkner has that we know of is his boss Mitch Payton, who gave a glowing endorsement of his longtime rider.
“As we’ve seen from Austin throughout his career, he has the speed and mindset to compete at the highest level. Austin came into the season with the ultimate goal of winning a championship and we feel he had done the right work to make that a reality. This injury will delay that goal until Austin is healed up and ready to return to competition, but he has our continued support through this time and we look forward to going racing with him in the future.”
While not exactly a secret at this point, the plan for Forkner was that he would be on a 450 for Motocross. While I wouldn't know for sure, I'd imagine jumping up to and getting acclimated to a 450, while coming off ACL surgery recovery is out of the cards. But that would also mean that Pro Circuit could be six riders deep in Motocross when/if Forkner returns. Now, the good news for Forkner is that he is no longer at risk of being forced out of the 250 class in Supercross with the new rule change that went into effect this season.
In the meantime, what are the odds that Mitch Payton finds a replacement for Forkner? Well, that ultimately comes down to any sort of agreement/mandate to run a minimum amount of riders, in this case, two. If that is the case, a name worth watching is Mitchell Harrison. Back in 2020 when nearly half of the Pro Circuit roster was out via injury, the current AJE/Motul GasGas rider was one of the riders Mitch Payton brought in for the Motocross season, so there's at least some familiarity there. I'd guess it'll just be Cameron McAdoo on the west coast if not, but some food for thought.
Main Image via Kawasaki