5 Minutes With ... Ryan Dungey

It used to be pretty common that Lites (or 125cc) riders would ride 450s (or 250cc two-strokes) on the opposite coast from the coast they were concentrating on. Even Chad Reed raced the Anaheim opener in 2002 on a YZ250 before winning the Eastern Regional Supercross Championship on his YZ250F for Yamaha of Troy. However, do to some restrictions placed by the AMA, it hasn’t happened nearly at all in recent years. However, in Indianapolis this weekend, Rockstar/Makita Suzuki’s Ryan Dungey will be racing a Suzuki RM-Z450 inside the RCA Dome.

Racer X: Hey, Ryan, what prompted the decision to give this 450 thing a run in Indy?
Ryan Dungey: The West coast ended, and after that, there’s like two months off. Going into this two months, it’s a long time to wait. Roger [DeCoster] came to me and asked me about it, and I thought about it, and talked to other people about it, and then I decided to go ride the 450 and see how it felt. I didn’t want to make a decision until I rode it. But everything went good there, and I felt comfortable on it. Meanwhile, we’ve just been testing and preparing and getting some laps in.
I’m not going in there with any expectations, though. I just want to go have a good time. Hopefully, it will be fun, and I can get some experience. I mean, I’m not going to dog it or anything, but I’m not going to throw it away or do anything stupid, either. It’s good. I wanted to race and get out there, and I like the 450, so since I can, I’m going to. I’m going to take it week by week and see how it goes.

No pressure or nothing, Ryan, but I bet Andy Bowyer that you could get on the podium in one of your first two races. The bet is that if you don’t, I’ll have to wear a Chiefs jersey in Dallas. If you do, though, he’ll have to wear a Broncos jersey in Dallas.
I’m not going out there trying to win, or trying to get a podium, or trying to get top five, I’m just going out there to race and have a good time. If it puts us up on the podium, great! But I’m not going there with any expectations. I’m going out there to put in some laps, and hopefully it goes well. I’m just going to do my best and enjoy it.

But Ryan, I know you have a lot to think about, but think about me for a second. If I lose, I’m going to have to wear a Chiefs jersey in Dallas!
Then, I’d better do it, huh?!

Yes! Thank you. So what was the first thing you noticed about the 450 when you rode it on a supercross track?

Just the power. Obviously, it’s got a lot of power. You’ve got to really respect it. Also, it’s a lot heavier. It’s a big bike and it takes more strength to handle. It also reacts different, like going into whoops and things like that. So, more than anything, I’ve just been getting used to how it all works. If I feel like we could get better at the races or whatever, we did testing, so that can happen, too. The powerband, it hits. It’s there. You’ve got to respect 450s. I learned that as an amateur when I rode them. At first, I wanted to ride it like a 250F, but I ended up on the ground until I learned that I had to respect it. I learned a bit about them in the amateurs, for sure.
It’s a dirt bike, so you know how to ride it, and you can convert it, but it’s different. Things react differently, and you have to be on top of your game with that bike.

Does it change the way you put a supercross track together in your head?

God, yeah. Maybe a Lites bike is having a hard time going outside and trying to triple into something, but with all of that power on the 450, it definitely makes it so that you can get over that kind of stuff. Or, it can also open up inside lines and stuff. It has the power, so you can get away with some lines that you can’t get away with on a Lites bike.

What are your plans as far as how many races you’re going to race? Do you know?

I’m just going to take it week by week and see how it goes. I’d like to do three or four. I don’t know how many, but I’d like to do as many as I can just so I can feel it out, and then we’ll go from there.

Has there been a lot of talk about the AMA rule that states if you finish top 20 in points, you’ll be stuck in the 450cc class next year for supercross?
Yeah, we don’t want to do that, obviously. I’m not going to be riding 450s from here on out. I don’t know what everybody thinks, but this is just about experience and seat time on the 450. I’m planning on riding Lites bikes all next year, and this summer, so that’s my main focus. I’m going to be riding Lites next year.