Ryan Dungey: “Everyone Is Gunning For It Early”

Kit Palmer | January 21, 2011

Round three of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series, scheduled for tomorrow night at Dodger Stadium, is a pretty big one for defending Supercross Champion Ryan Dungey. Even though it’s early in the season, he could use a confidence-boosting win soon before panic starts to creep in. His season has gotten off to a bit of an edgy start with a second-place finish at Anaheim I and a fifth-place finish at Phoenix last week. Of course, a 2-5 start isn’t bad for most racers – but Dungey isn’t most racers. He has the big number one on his back and on every side of his motorcycle – and that changes people’s expectations. Anything less than winning at this point may not be acceptable.But Dungey isn’t really the type to panic – a point he’s proven in the past. But a win tomorrow night would go a long way towards making everyone in the Rockstar/Makita Suzuki pits feel a bit more at ease.We recently caught up with Dungey and asked him few question about the start to the 2011 season and his thoughts about the way things have been going.

How do you feel about your first two races?Well, the first round went relatively good. I think coming out second on the night was a pretty good start to the season. I’m mean, it’s a long season, 17 rounds, and it’s really early, and we just have to keep our heads down and dig deep. I’m a little bummed on last week’s performance in Phoenix – a fifth place.What happened there?I just fought the bike a little bit with set up, a few areas, but I really feel that – I mean, fifth place isn’t that terrible. I got out to a good start but made a lot of mistakes on the first lap and that set me back a lot, and I was left playing catch up. I’m not – ideally – like to be back in fifth. In the test of life, there are going to be times that are harder than others, but I feel with the help of a great team, a great family, and the people around me that I’ve been able to surround myself throughout my career, we all can re-evaluate and get back at it. I have a lot to be thankful; to be able to walk away from [any] race is always fortunate, but last week we learned a lot of valuable lessons, I believe. We took a lot away from the race, things that we can improve on.When you say set up, what do you mean?The motor is great, just set up, suspension-wise. Nothing crazy, just a little minor changes, really, just fine-tuning more than anything. Overall, I’m happy with the bike and I really like it. Things are good, we just have to get a few little things figured out and we will be good.You pretty much had only one bad race, at Hangtown, all last year, after so many good races, is it a bit more difficult to accept having a bad race? Even though fifth last week isn’t really bad.Yes. The goal is to win each race from here on out. On a bad night – I think we did a great job limiting what I think could’ve happened [at Phoenix], there were a couple of things that night that could’ve been a lot worse. I just have to take from it and learn from the whole experience, move forward, and not dwell on it. We’re going to have bad days, we’re going to have bad races. I think it tells more about a person and how we go about it than what we let it do to us. It’ important to keep moving in the right direction. You expect a lot from yourself, especially after all of the hard work you put in, you prepare to be the top guy, but through the whole season, it’s a long one and a lot can happen, so we need to be aware of all the surroundings and do all that we can do that’s in our will and leave the rest to the Man above.

You had quite the race with Chad Reed last week.It was good, we found each other both in the field, in fourth/fifth, all night we were right next to each other and made a few passes on people. I just wasn’t able to pull the trigger and get by. It was good clean racing.The competition is tough this year, are you surprised by anybody’s performance so far? Both James Start and Ryan Villopoto are riding well after their long lay-offs.That’s what I expected. Everyone is gunning for it early and everyone is excited and anxious, so I think if we can be patient and keep in the game and be smart and put ourselves in good position, as well as riding good laps – good hard clean laps – and putting ourselves out in front is our goal. [But] at the end of the day, we’re focused on our own deal and ourselves and let the rest play out, it’s important not to underestimate any rider, for sure.


Kit Palmer | Off-Road Editor

Kit Palmer started his career at Cycle News in 1984 and he’s been testing dirt and streetbikes every since – plus covering any event that uses some form of a knobby tire. He’s also our resident motorcycle mileage man with a commute of 120 miles a day.