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Monday Conversation: Ryan Dungey

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Rockstar/Makita Suzuki’s Ryan Dungey is fulfilling a lifelong dream in a little over a month as he heads over to the Motocross des Nations as the captain of Team USA, racing an RM-Z450 for the first time outdoors on perhaps the largest stage in the world. We talked to him after he finished runner-up at Unadilla.

Racer X: Let’s start here: You came into this race tied for the points lead, but it seemed to me that you lost both races five feet off of the gate, because Christophe Pourcel got good starts and split while you were passing guys. Is that about right?
Ryan Dungey: Yeah, I mean, coming into today I felt good, but I didn’t get the best of starts, and once Pourcel got into the lead, I still had work to do before I was even into second. I just watched him ride away both motos. But I think things were just clicking and I think we all have them days. I’ve just got to keep my head high and go into the next race. I’m really looking forward to Budds Creek. It’s a fun track.

It has been said for years that Unadilla favors a lot more GP-style riders because of the way the dirt is and the layout of the track, so it’s possible that Pourcel just got along with this place really well because of his background, don’t you think?
I’ve thought about that, like I wonder if this is what GP tracks are like. Every time I come here they’ve said that, but maybe that was it. Maybe this is the way it is over there, and he just knows how to ride this stuff better. The track was gnarly, though. They didn’t do a dang thing after the 450s, so we got the roughest track out there. I was just a little bit off and I guess it just was what it was. We worked hard to put it up there but we were just a little off of his pace. We’ll try and come back stronger next week.

What all went into the decision to name you the MX1 rider for the Motocross des Nations team?
I think, as a lot of people know, Josh Grant was going to go, but he got hurt, so I don’t think there was a lot left for 450cc guys besides international guys [racing in the AMA]. But I’ve ridden the Suzuki 450 and I’ve raced it in supercross, and growing up as an amateur, I’ve always really enjoyed riding the 450, and soon I’ll be on one full-time, so I think it’s great. I’m really pumped about it, and it’s a great honor and a great opportunity. They bumped me up, and [Jake] Weimer’s been pretty solid all year, so I think he can get the job done, too. I’ve just got to do my part, and so does Ivan [Tedesco], so I think it’s a pretty solid team, and with Roger [DeCoster] as the team manager, that’s great, too. We know what we’ve got to do, and it will be fun. I’m looking forward to it.

Look over there at your teammate who is leading the 450cc class right now. In Italy, you’re going to have to race against Chad Reed.
Yeah, and Byrner! It’ll be interesting. I’ve seen them racing all year, but it’ll be the first time I’ve raced with them. I’ve only raced the US Open with them. It’ll be cool. They’ll be there to do it for their country, and we’ll be there to do it for ours. It’ll probably be a little weird, but it is what it is. We’re all there on the 450s and it’ll be great. I’m really looking forward to it.

Have you studied the GP riders much at all?
To be honest, no, I don’t know much about the Euros except the guys who come over here, and the guys who are racing here now that are from other countries. All I can do is do my homework, get a good setup and get some good time on the bike before it, then fly out there and try to get the job done. I think it’s a team effort, and we’re all in it together, and we all have to perform. It’ll be interesting. I just have to do my best and let the rest fall into place, I guess.

And you’re going to be running the number-one plate...
Yeah [laughs], running the number-one plate, so that will be big, but it’s something I’m looking forward to. I’ve dreamed about going there since I was a little kid, and I think everybody does, but it’ll be an honor and a wonderful opportunity. I think we’ve got a solid team, and I can’t wait.
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