Our countdown to the 2013 Monster Energy FIM Motocross of Nations is now down to just ten days! The big race will take place September 28-29 at Teutschenthal, Germany, where Team USA's Ryan Dungey, Eli Tomac, and Justin Barcia will be trying to get the Peter Chamberlain Trophy back from the Ken Roczen-led Germans. (You can watch all of the action next week online; visit www.mx-life.tv for sign-up information.) We are counting down the days by rating Team USA's top performers over the years, and today we have reached a Team USA hero who is actually going to be racing next weekend: Red Bull KTM's Ryan Dungey.
The 2013 MXoN will mark Ryan Dungey's fifth year in a row on Team USA, matching David Bailey (1982-'86) for second in that regard; Jeff Emig ('92-'97) holds the record with six straight appearances. In his four previous appearances, all in the highly competitive MX1 class, Dungey teams are 3-1. Coincidentally, 2013 will mark the first time in his Team USA efforts that he will not be wearing the #1 plate.
Ray Archer photo
His first appearance came in 2009 when he was the newly crowned AMA 250 Motocross Champion and riding for Makita Suzuki. Roger DeCoster, his team manager for both Suzuki and Team USA, decided to let Dungey ride the 450 outdoors for the first time in his career in Brescia, Italy. Many wrote Dungey off in anticipation of a big duel between Italy's Tony Cairoli and Australia's Chad Reed. They got what they expected in the first moto, with Cairoli edging Reed, the AMA 450 MX Champion, and Dungey finishing a decent but distant third. But in the last moto both Tony and Chad went down off the start and Dungey cleared out for a convincing win, leading teammates Jake Weimer (MX2) and Ivan Tedesco (MX3) to the top of the podium. Here's a video from Red Bull by Wes Williams and the Vurb Moto boys.
In 2010 the race returned to the U.S. at Thunder Valley with another hotly anticipated race—this time Dungey vs. Cairoli, and on Dungey's turf. Ryan did not let anyone down, blistering the field in both motos on his RM-Z450 and letting the world know he was the real deal. Team USA's Trey Canard (MX2) and Andrew Short (MX3) also rode well, and the Americans ended up on top again. Here's the end of the day and Dungey's emphatic last-race win.
Dungey's first 450 race outdoors was the Motocross of Nations race in Italy in 2009 where he went 3-1 to lead Team USA to the overall win.
Sarah Gutierrez photo
Team USA would run its streak to seven in 2011 when Dungey again rode MX1, though this time in France it would be Ryan Villopoto who put on the jaw-dropping ride in a crucial third moto. The race, Dungey's last on Suzuki, went down to the last moto, with Team USA needing to get up front and stay there in order to hold off the home team. They did, with RV simply disappearing from everyone but Dungey. He slowed down at the end so the two could ride across the finish line hand-in-hand. Blake Baggett (MX2) didn't have a great day, but he rode hard and Team USA won. Here's a look at the dramatic last moto.
Unfortunately, 2011 has so far been the one and only time that Villopoto and Dungey—our two best riders—were on the same Team USA together. Villopoto was out with a knee injury last year, and Dungey (now on Red Bull KTM) led Baggett (MX2) and Justin Barcia (MX3) into the deep sands of Lommel for a tough weekend in Belgium. Team USA finished third, but the streak was over at seven. The winners were Germany, for the first time ever in Motocross of Nations history. Here's a look at that brutal race.
Dungey is of course back this year and could very well move up on this list with another world-class performance. As it is, he stands tenth on our list of the Top 25 Team USA riders of all time.
Dungey leads Ben Townley at the 2010 Motocross of Nations where he sweep both motos.
Simon Cudby photo