Ryan Dungey - AMA Motocross/Supercross Rookie of the Year
Ryan Dungey turned in a solid season in his first full year in the professional ranks. The 17-year-old Makita Suzuki rider from Belle Plaine, Minn., won three rounds of the AMA Supercross Lites East Series en route to finishing fifth in the final standings. He capped off the Supercross season with an impressive victory in the Dave Coombs East/West AMA Supercross Lites Shootout at Las Vegas' Sam Boyd Stadium on May 5.
"It was unbelievable," said Dungey after winning the Shootout. "I'd hoped to get a good start on my Makita Suzuki RM-Z250 but it was unimaginable to lead the whole 15 laps like that.”
Dungey was a promising amateur champion when Makita Suzuki unexpectedly called him up to race for them in the final motocross rounds of 2006. In addition to the potential he showed in Supercross this season, Dungey also scored four podium finishes in the Lites class of the 2007 AMA Toyota Motocross Championship presented by FMF. His best result of the year was a runner-up finish at Unadilla in July. Dungey finished the season ranked fifth in the final AMA Motocross Lites Championship in spite of missing the final three rounds due to an injury.
“I’m really excited to be named AMA Rookie of the Year,” Dungey said. “I’m really happy about such a big honor, because just one rider a year gets it for working the hardest throughout the year and having the best results out of all the rookies. But I couldn’t have gotten this without the support of my mom and dad, all of Team Makita Suzuki, my team manager Roger DeCoster, my sponsors, my manager Tony Gardea and also Dr. G. Thanks so much to everyone.”
Dungey finds his name among a long and prestigious list of past AMA Rookies of the Year including riders such as Ricky Carmichael, Travis Pastrana, James Stewart and Ryan Villopoto, just to name a few of the more recent winners.
Dungey is slated to return with Makita Suzuki in 2008.
Lucca Scassa – AMA Superbike Rookie of the Year
Luca Scassa is the AMA Superbike Rookie of the Year, but the 24-year-old Italian had already achieved road racing success elsewhere. Scassa came to race for the Ferracci MV Agusta Superbike team in the U.S. in 2007 having won the Italian Superstock Championship in 2006.
Scassa rode the MV Agusta F4-1000R 312 in AMA Superbike this season and earned credible results in spite of the bike being in the early developmental stage. Scassa scored three top-10 finishes, all of them coming in the second half of the season as Ferracci improved the MV. His best result was a seventh place in the second leg of the doubleheader at Virginia International Raceway in August.
Scassa finished tied for 14th in the final AMA Superbike Championship standings.
“It was cool to come to America to race,” Scassa said. “I came here to do a job and it was great to be a part of the legendary Ferracci team. Eraldo Ferracci is a maestro and it was a dream come true to race for him. I was honored to ride for the team. It was like a big family. For sure I wish we had better results, but we improved a lot throughout the season. It’s fantastic to be Rookie of the Year. It’s something I did not expect.”
Scassa was part of a truly groundbreaking team in AMA Superbike. 2007 marked the first time MV Agusta entered the American series. MV Agusta is a historic maker, its bikes, carrying the distinctive red and silver racing colors, has won numerous world championships.
Scassa joins a select group of riders to win the AMA Superbike rookie honor. Scott Russell, Thomas Stevens, Chris Carr, Tommy Hayden, Jamie Hacking, Geoff May and Roger Hayden are just few of the elite riders who have won the award in the past.
Mike Rush – Ricky Graham AMA Flat Track Rookie of the Year
Mike Rush, of Gilroy, Calif., earned the 2007 Ricky Graham AMA Flat Track Rookie of the Year by virtue of a stunning performance at the season opening AMA Ford Quality Checked Flat Track Championship doubleheader at Municipal Stadium in Daytona Beach, Fla., in March.
Rush continued in the fine tradition of surprise winners at the Daytona Short Track National. The 19-year-old, who was in his first full season as a pro, took the lead on the first lap aboard his Dave Burks Motorsports Suzuki and pulled away to a dominating 7.296-second margin of victory over eventual AMA GNC Singles champ, Ken Coolbeth in the second night at Daytona Beach.
The victory for Rush, combined with his runner-up finish in the first leg of the Daytona doubleheader, meant that the youngster from Gilroy, Calif., left Daytona the championship leader.
“I can’t believe it,” said the jubilant Rush after winning the race. “I was up above the groove at the start and tried squaring off the corner and shot out of there like a rocket. This is a dream come true. I’ve been dreaming about this since I was four and started riding. I started racing when I was five.”
Rush qualified for only one other national, but his Daytona victory and runner-up finish were good enough to earn him 11th in the final AMA GNC Singles standings and the Rookie of the Year honors. He injured his left knee, had surgery and missed most of the season rehabbing.
“I’m starting to race locally again,” Rush said of his comeback. “I won some regional races at the Cow Palace and I’m getting back to training. I want to come back and make a serious bid to win the (AMA GNC) Singles Championship next year.”
Rush follows in the tradition of other AMA Flat Track Rookies of the Year such as Jay Springsteen, Scott Parker, Chris Carr, Ken Coolbeth and Jared Mees; just a few of the greats among the past winners of the award. The award is named after the late AMA Grand National Champion Ricky Graham, one of the all-time fan favorites who passed away in 1998.
The 2007 Rookies of the Year will be honored at the 33rd annual AMA Pro Racing Awards Banquet on Sunday evening, Nov. 18 at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Contact Cyndi Freeze-Cain (614.856.1900 ext. 1232) for tickets.