Roger DeCoster went way, way out on a limb when he signed the hardly known and hardly tested Ryan Dungey to his Makita Suzuki team last year. The kid had not exactly cleaned up as an amateur, but DeCoster saw something in the Minnesota kid and put him out on the test track to learn as much as he can from Ricky Carmichael in the time he has left on two wheels. Suzuki even went so far as to build an advertising campaign around Dungey’s chance-of-a-lifetime—another huge gamble given the fact that this kid has never even raced a supercross before.
Well, it didn’t take long for “The Man” to earn some vindication, did it? Ryan Dungey was a revelation on Saturday night in Atlanta, putting in a flawless night in his AMA Supercross Lites debut. He was joined on the box by another rider who earned a rare opportunity—arenacross star Darcy Lange—when Brett Metcalfe couldn’t go for Monster Enery/Pro Circuit Kawasaki. And Matt Goerke’s solid third meant that all three riders in Atlanta were earning their first-ever supercross trophies.
What of the favorites? After a great afternoon where he was the fastest qualifier, Jeff Alessi struggled in the main, and older brother Mike crashed spectacularly after he reportedly popped his shoulder out upon landing off the finish line jump. Tommy Hahn, Billy Laninovich and the ailing Ryan Sipes crashed, and Ben Townley’s motor grenaded while he was running second.
So after waiting 17 years to ride his first supercross, Dungey has five more days to wait to ride his second one and prove that this one was no fluke. Believe me, it wasn’t. He’s the real deal, and Roger knew it all along!