5 Minutes With... Ryan Dungey

After eight weeks off from racing, Rockstar/Makita Suzuki’s Ryan Dungey is getting back after it this Saturday night in Seattle, Washington’s Qwest Field. Carrying a slim, two-point lead over championship rival Jake Weimer, Dungey wants to prove he has what it takes not just to win races, but to win championships.

Racer X: What have you been doing for the last eight weeks?
Ryan Dungey: Ever since the break started, I’ve just been keeping up on everything, really, as far as the dirt bike and the fitness. Obviously, the break gives us a lot of time to go and do other things, whether it’s hanging out and having fun or whatever. I’ve gone back and hung out with my family a little bit, and I went to watch [younger brother] Blake at an amateur national... Then, I’ve been locking down and preparing for these last two races. It’s been a great break, but it’s coming to an end. The races are starting back up here, and I’m looking forward to that.

When you’re in the middle of a championship chase that’s this close, what’s it like to take such a long break right in the middle of it?
Well, it’s definitely tough. It’s not to the point where you can’t stand it, but I’ve got a two-point lead going into this break, and I had a little bit of a hard time after San Diego because we’re just “go, go, go” non-stop, and then all of a sudden there’s nothing, so it was weird to adjust to it. But these last two months, they took a long time to go by. It would’ve been nice to just wrap it all up, but I made it up to Jacksonville to watch the East race, so it is what it is. All I can do is prepare and be ready for it, so that’s what I’m doing.

I saw you at Jacksonville, and you seemed like you were in good spirits. Are you healthy and everything?
Yeah, all good. I’m 100-percent healthy, thankfully, and the riding’s going good, and everything’s going good from there. It’s good, it’s just a matter of time before we get back to it, and then we’ve got outdoors coming up, so we’ve been preparing for that. There’s a lot of good stuff to prepare for, so you can’t take too much downtime. Just take what’s needed and stick to it, really. That’s how I feel about it.

I talked to Ricky Carmichael at Jacksonville, and he said you guys did a 10-lap race down at his house...
One day, we were out at the farm, and he came out riding with us, and at the end of the day, we did a 10-lapper, and he gave me a few seconds of a head start, and he ended up getting me with one lap to go, and I was bummed! I was like, “Dang, dude!” I mean, obviously he can still go fast, and he rides with me now and then, but it was pretty funny. I mean, it wasn’t funny to me, because I was like, “Dang it!” I was working hard, trying to get ready, and he comes out and throws it down on me. I mean, here’s a guy who takes all this time off, and here I am, and he beats me...

Yeah, he’s the old retired guy, and he beat you...
Yeah, it kind of bummed me out! I just had to brush it off. He’s pretty amazing. He can still lay down the laps, which is pretty cool – to have another guy still riding with us out there like that. Ricky lets me ride at his place and stuff like that, so it’s been great to work with him, and it’s been a lot of fun.

Now you have an idea how frustrating it was for everyone racing against Ricky over the years...
When you’ve got it, you’ve got it!

What about Chad Reed? Have you been riding with him much at all?
I actually haven’t ridden with Chad since the week before San Diego, since we were out there [in California] together, but I was able to go to Jacksonville and talk to him. It’s been cool to sit back and watch the Supercross class go at it for the last bunch of weeks. It’s pretty interesting. I’ve kind of been getting into it! Hopefully, the better man wins. Chad is having one of the better years that he’s ever had. He’s really giving it his all – not that he hasn’t before, he’s just a different rider. It’s pretty cool to see somebody step up to another level like that.

When you’re watching them, is part of you thinking about how you’re going to have to be racing against them next year?
Well, yeah, when I watch them, I realize it’s the class I’m going to be in, and it’s going to be tough to beat them guys, but eventually, I hope I’ll be able to run 20 strong laps with them and maybe win, you know? It’s going to be tough. It’s not going to come easy, and it’s going to be a big learning experience. But the quicker I can get into it and start working on it, the better, but their speed is pretty amazing, so it’s going to be tough. But I won’t say it’s not a reachable goal.

You say you’ve been testing outdoors, and I think you’re either the downright favorite for the title this year, if not at least one of the main favorites, having beaten Ryan Villopoto a few times last year. How important is that series to you at this point?
It’s definitely important, but I’m just trying to keep focused on the supercross championship right now. Last year, being able to get a couple wins under my belt, and to put myself in the position to be that guy, it was good. But this year, it’s going to be good. I’m really looking forward to it. I know there are a couple new guys from overseas, and it’s not going to be easy, but it should be a good fight. It’s something that I’ve been waiting to do all year, so it’s just a matter of time. It’s going to be exciting.

What’s your gameplan for these last two weeks of the Lites West championship?
Like I said before, just to be as ready as I can be. I’ve done everything I can to pull it off, and I just need to put myself in good positions. These last two races are really important, and to be at the end to wrap up the championship is the key. I’ve got some tough competition – [Jake] Weimer’s been going good and strong – and it’s going to be a fight. I’ve had a lot of time to think about how to handle it, and how to go about it, and I just need to focus on these two weeks and put myself in a good position to come out on top. After that, there’s Vegas. It’s good, though. I think a lot of people are kind of waiting to see what the turnout is, and it’ll be a good show. But from my standpoint, I’m ready. I’m looking forward to it. It’s been a while, and I’m not going to sit here and say what I’ve done. All I can do is be as ready as I can, and that’s what I am.