Ryan Dungey is on fire. He leads the points standings in the AMA Lucas Oil Outdoor Motocross Series after earning two seconds and three wins, including this past weekend’s victory at Budds Creek in Mechanicsville, MD.
We caught up with the 2010 champ to get his take on this season, riding for KTM, missing the competition and how his grandmother changed his life.
That and more in this week’s BNQT Pro File.
BNQT: Ryan – how are you feeling at this stage of the Outdoor season?
RD: This season has been fun. From the beginning, starting in Hangtown, coming into Outdoors with a new team (Red Bull-KTM), I think we’re doing a really good job at making progress. Coming into the year we were wondering because it was a brand new 450 bike, but I felt we’ve had some great starts and some great finishes, second overall in the first two rounds, then in Thunder Valley and then in Pittsburg and Budds Creek we ended up winning.
BNQT: You’re leading the pack, which is missing a few players – does that take away from it at all?
RD: It doesn’t affect me but it’s a bummer that guys are missing such as James (Stewart), Ryan (Villopoto) and Chad (Reed), at the same time I have to race and the goal is to win. Still – having guys like that to compete against – it’s great not only for myself but for the sport. When we’re all healthy we push each other to go faster and faster and at the end of the day it makes for great racing. We improve our speed and capability. It’s a shame to see Ryan and the top guys out but we just have to keep doing our deal and we can expect them to be back strong and healthy and, hopefully, in 2013 we’ll all be in it together.
“…I have to race and the goal is to win.”
BNQT: How’s the new bike feeling under you and the vibe with KTM?
RD: It’s good to see the bike performing well and as far as the team we’re making progress. It’s coming along and the changes we’ve made have helped us to be in the number 1 spot and to be in the points lead. There’s a lot of racing to come but right now we’ve tried to put ourselves in the best position possible.
BNQT: For the naysayers – joining KTM doesn’t seem so risky now does it? Did you ever think twice?
RD: Teaming up with Red Bull-KTM has been a great opportunity. It’s been a really fun experience. We look forward to accomplishing a lot as a team and winning races and championships, and, no, I never thought twice about it. I was able to ride the bike right away and I really felt like they did a great job coming out with the new KTM 450. It worked out well from the beginning.
“I knew (the bike) was capable of winning…”
BNQT: With a new bike, was there any adjustment time or did you think you could win from the first race?
RD: I knew it was capable of winning, but of course you have those months of testing and back-to-back days before racing starts. I just put my head down and dug deep and let everything happen. Getting a couple wins in Supercross this year was a big step for me and the team and the bike.
BNQT: With your recent wins are you making any adjustments?
RD: With Outdoors we continue to experiment and make progress. Being the first year on this setup we have no notes or no history on what worked in the past. So we’re now taking all these notes for Supercross and Outdoor and all the testing so that for 2013 we’ll have a whole year of results. That’s a big step because you see what works and what doesn’t and that guides you.
BNQT: How’s the atmosphere with the crew?
RD: KTM is great atmosphere, it’s neat to see the team get along and everyone is working together for the number 1 goal and that’s to win. A lot of hard work and effort to make it happen but everybody is doing a great job.
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BNQT: How about on the Red Bull side – how’s it running with them?
RD: Ever since I teamed up with Red Bull last year it’s been amazing. I was impressed with the way they wanted to help me. They wanted to go deeper to help me as an athlete – physically, mentally – the whole package. They were willing to go above and beyond what was normal. It’s been a big help for me to learn more about my body and the nutrition side by working with the best trainers in the world.
BNQT: What are other benefits besides endless supply of Red Bull?
RD: They help make people more aware of specific sports. As far as motocross they sponsor the Outdoor events and have great PR and make it fun and enjoyable. They make sure the athletes are taken care of. I was taken aback to have that support system on my side – to do whatever it takes. It’s really cool to be teamed up with Red Bull, for sure.
“It’s really cool to be teamed up with Red Bull, for sure.”
BNQT: Earlier you mentioned Supercross – how’s your bike setup different from Supercross to Outdoor?
RD: Supercross is more enclosed and more of a stadium – racing on football and baseball fields and the racing is a lot tighter and shorter. Also indoors has more obstacles and more jumps, and runs at a bit slower speed. You run a stiffer setup for suspension and you tune the motor to be quicker. At Outdoors you race in the country where the tracks are mellower but at a higher speed, less jumps, more forgiving, so you run a softer setup so the bike absorbs everything and you’re not bouncing all over.
BNQT: Do you have a preference?
RD: I like them both. We spend 50% of the year at Supercross, which is a lot of fun. I never experienced Supercross till I was 16, which is when I went pro. At amateurs you don’t really get to ride it. There’s a big learning curve to it, but it was fun. Once you’re done with Supercross you get in to the natural roots of the sport, which is Outdoor. For me it’s nice to switch it up.
Dungey – keeping an eye on what’s important. Photo: Carl Stone
BNQT: Speaking of switching it up – we hear you’re racing bicycles soon?
RD: Haha – well Target is a sponsor of mine and they’re helping me with a charity bike ride on July 15 in Minneapolis and all the money goes to St Jude’s Children’s Cancer Research Hospital.
“I lost my grandmother…It helped me understand a lot of things.”
BNQT: Tell us more about that…
RD: I lost my grandmother in 2005 of liver cancer. It was a tough experience for me and it shaped my life a bit. It helped me understand a lot of things. I’d never lost a family member, so for me as a rider and being a pro athlete I’m put in a position to help, to give back in a way and help raise awareness of what’s happening and how much people are affected by cancer. It’s a great opportunity to help these kids and that’s is what it’s about. It’s not about me.
BNQT: Thanks Ryan – best of luck with the charity and the rest of the Outdoor season!
RD: Thanks so much!
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