ANAHEIM, CA, JAN. 5 - Supercross Champion Ryan Villopoto is back on a Kawasaki. Chad Reed is returning on a Honda. Ditto for Trey Canard. James Stewart is on a different team, but his motorcycle is still the familiar blue of a Yamaha. But for Ryan Dungey, everything has changed as he's swapped his factory Suzuki for a bright orange KTM - a Japanese manufacturer for a bike made in Austria.
Things really couldn't be any more different, but Dungey is happy with the move, happy with the progress the team has made, and happy to be back with his former Suzuki team manager and mentor Roger DeCoster. He'll make his AMA Monster Energy Supercross debut with the team on Saturday night at the Anaheim Supercross, though it won't be his first race on the Austrian bike - that came in the Monster Cup at the end of last season.
"I guess it was just the opportunity that presented itself," Dungey said of making the move to KTM in the off-season. "In past years I've had great success with Suzuki and it's been a lot of fun. It's just moving forward. I guess going over to KTM was a matter of just making that change... that level of commitment. I know KTM was dominant over in Europe and we hope to accomplish that coming over here. It looked like the perfect fit to me. What they brought to the table and what they were able to accomplish in a short amount of time that they had for this moment... Aside from that it was working with Roger DeCoster and Ian and it's good to be a part of it. It's been a lot of fun. I've really enjoyed the time since last season ended and getting on the bike and preparation has gone really well. I had a great off-season and I feel ready and I feel fit. I'm just looking forward to getting out there."
One advantage of riding for KTM is the ability of the company to turn things around quickly. In other words, if Dungey needs something changed, he should be able to get those new parts in a hurry. So far, that's been the case, he says.
"I don't feel like a lot of manufacturers could have done the turnaround and made everything possible for this moment," Dungey said. "It's cool to go over there [Austria] and meet the whole crew and everybody is really into it and committed. I like that. As a rider you try to surround yourself with the best people and they have great success. I feel like we have everything lined up really nice and to make that happen... they get things done fast and that's nice."