A lot of pressure comes with moving up to the 450 class after such a dominant year in the 250 class - just ask Ryan Villopoto. But this year it's Ryan Dungey's turn. The Rockstar Makita Suzuki rider took a Supercross Championship, Motocross Championship and Motocross of Nations win in 2009, and the spotlight is now following him up to the 450 class - the final frontier!
We talked with Dungey at the Supercross press day and got a few words from him on making the change, what he's expecting this year and what his game plan for the season is.
It looks like you bulked up a little bit. Have you?
Yeah, definitely. I’ve put on a little bit actually. I think just riding [a 450] puts size on you. It’s a bigger bike, and the power is a bit more. Being able to get time on a bike before starting the new season, it’s been great. Fitness and everything - it takes a little time to come around but once it gets there you keep building from there.
Have you watched other guys in their first year moving up to the 450 class and learned from their experiences?
Yeah. I always try to look at other riders and see where they might have went wrong. And it’s really hard to say because you go into it and things kinda happen the way they want to happen. You can’t really control that, but I think the little stuff, you can eliminate some damage, for sure.
At the end of the day, I always want to win. I wanna win championships. That’s always been what I want to do. With time, it’ll come. There’s a great group of riders and it might come easy and it might come harder. It’s going to be a great challenge and one that I’m really looking forward to. It's like you wait for this moment your whole life since you were 7 or 8 years old watching it on tv and to finally be here is great.
What’s the plan for this year? Is it going to be a learning curve, or do you want to come out strong?
I really want to come out strong. I think after the first round, we’ll see where everyone’s at. It’s a long season – my first full supercross season. So to be consistent, healthy, safe, to be right up there and challenge with the top guys, that’s what I really want. But we’ll just try to put ourselves in a good position, take one race at a time and do like we know how to best. That’s all I can ask of myself and to give it my all. Hopefully that’ll put us where we want to be.
Last year Pro Circuit was doing the motor work for your 250 - so essentially it was your competition building your motors. But now Suzuki is back with Yoshimura. Is that a positive thing for the team?
Pro Circuit was great to us. They did a good job. Yeah, we were going up against our [rivals] but at the end of the day I think it comes down to the rider. But moving with Yosh, it’s a great company. They got a lot of great resources, they got a lot of great equipment to do the testing and everything they need to build the best. I think we’ve got a great bike, great equipment, great motor. When we’re on the line, to be able to know that my bike is going to be 100% ready and strong enough and the best equipment to win, is what it takes.
What’s it going to be like lining up next to guys you grew up watching on TV when you were little?
It's pretty amazing. When I raced the KTM challenge, Kevin Windham was just going pro. I’ve raced with Kevin back in 2008 and it’s almost like, "Damn, I'm racing Kevin Windham!" But that’s going to be one thing that you gotta overcome. You can’t really look up to a rider because pretty soon you’re going to be on the gate with them – guys who you looked up to, you’re going to be racing against. I’m just trying to do my own deal, win races and ride like I know how. That’s the plan.
And not be afraid to use them for traction if you need to.
[laughs] Yeah, exactly!