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Pro Circuit Kawasaki's Austin Forkner Set to Return This Weekend at Millville

Guys staying healthy has been a massive issue for Mitch Payton and Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki in 2023. With that said, things have been looking up as of late, with Seth Hammaker returning to action a couple of weeks ago and now Austin Forkner. The last time we saw the seventh-year pro, he was getting taken off on the medical cart at Anaheim 1 Supercross, watching yet another chance at a Supercross go to the wayside due to another unfortunate injury. Now after prepping to get back into the thick of things, he's a full go for Millville, which is slated to be only his 14th start in the great outdoors since the end of 2018.

Beach Day Prep

Through social media, we've gotten a little glimpse into what Fornker is putting into this comeback. About a week ago, he dropped some footage on his YouTube channel of some sand track riding at Ryan Hughes' place. How does a 45-minute Moto sound to you? Some pretty gnarly stuff if you ask me. This exercise was simply to work on technique and get a feel for things, according to Ryno. Lots of good technique talk in here as well if that's your bag.

What to Expect from Forkner

Said it at the top, but this will only be Motos No. 27 and 28 for Forkner since the end of the 2018 Motocross season. Although I would like to see Forkner be competitive right away, he'll probably need a few rounds to get his race fitness dialed in. But more than that, I want to see Forkner stay upright and healthy these next five Nationals. Even if that means he takes it a bit easier than he probably should, just finishing out some live races should do wonders heading into 2024. Regardless of if he makes the SMX playoffs or not. Speaking of which...

Fornker's Path to the SMX Playoffs

In years past, qualifying into the Monster Energy Cup would be a virtual non-issue for Forkner, but now in the 'SMX-era' for the lack of a better term, this feels worth bringing up. Does Forkner have a realistic path to get in, having just one point to his name and only 10 Motos to work with? Surprisingly, the answer is yes, certainly as an LCQ rider, but Forkner could potentially lock himself into all three rounds as a top-20 seed.

Looking at the 250 field, Jeremy Martin, Chance Hymas, and Nate Thrasher are all most likely done for the year (Hymas certainly is). Jett Lawrence obviously won't be competing on a 250, and that's not even factoring in several other 250 riders that have yet to return from injury, such as Forkner's teammates Cameron McAdoo or Carson Mumford. Additionally, you have a multitude of riders skipping the Nationals to run World Supercross as well. So at the bare minimum, there are most likely four key guys you can take out right away, and that's just at the top of the proverbial batting order.

Currently, the 30 seed in the 250 SMX field is Henry Miller, who picked up just 86 points in Supercross, and despite running WSX for Rick Ware Racing, will be making his outdoor debut this weekend, but will be doing so on a 450. Meanwhile, the 20 seed is Thrasher, who by the time he went down at Atlanta SX, racked up 120 points. To beat that latter number, Forkner could finish ninth in every Moto left and be in the clear by one. Wouldnt bet on him to get 10 consecutive ninths, but getting at least 120 points is well within his means. Even if Hammaker, Jalek Swoll, and Pierce Brown (also returning this weekend) get passed that threshold (they most likely will), Forkner has some wiggle room to make it in outright.

Main Image via Kawasaki


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