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Monday Conversation: Ryan Dungey

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Rockstar/Makita Suzuki’s Ryan Dungey has put together a great year, from start to finish, first winning the Lites Western Region Supercross Championship, and now clinching the Lucas Oil AMA Pro 250cc Motocross Championship in his last race ever on a 250cc machine. Next up, the Motocross des Nations.

Racer X: You’re a national champion now! How does it feel?
Ryan Dungey: It definitely feels good to get the first one. I’ve been working hard my whole life for this point, and I’m thankful that today went good. It’s hard to put into words how I feel because it was a long season with a lot of ups and downs but I never gave up, so in the end, it just means that much more to wrap it up.

You really look at it like that, right? That this is your first one, meaning there are more to come.
Yeah, that’s the plan. I want to keep moving forward and hopefully rack up one after another, but it was good to be able to get a supercross championship and then carry the momentum into the outdoors and wrap this one up, too. I’m moving up next year, so I really wanted to get it before I moved out of the class, and this one’s even more special than the supercross one because it’s 12 rounds and 24 motos of fighting. It was non-stop during the weeks and on the weekends. It was tough, for sure.

Yeah, this was actually the end of your 250cc career. You’re never going to race the 250 again!
Yeah, today was the last day on a 250, which was emotional. This week was tough. I left the track [at Carmichael’s camp] and was like, “Man, this is the last time I’m going to ride here on a 250. And this is my last race, so let’s make it special and go out with a bang.” I feel like we came here and did what we have to do.

Obviously, you rode a 450 in supercross last year, but what about in practice or training this year? Have you ridden one much?
No, only the last year, like you said, but I’ll be getting on them here soon to get some testing in for the des Nations. I’m really looking forward to that and I think we’ve got a great, solid team of people, and we’ve got the best in our corner with Roger [DeCoster] and everyone else. So I think we’re in good hands, and we’ll go over there and try to pull through for the team.

What do you think of the pressure of racing such an event, and doing it on a bike you’ve never raced outdoors, and in a class where you’re going to be racing the fastest guys from each country?
It’ll be good. Roger put it in good words, I think, when you talked to him and he said he thinks a rider can step up to the occasion on any bike. Yeah, I haven’t raced against any of those guys, except for the ones I’ve been over here racing against, but nothing’s impossible and I think we’ve got a great team, a great bike, a great setup, and I think we’re going to be great. We’ll go over there with no pressure and do what we have to do. I enjoyed the 450 in the amateurs, and I rode it a little bit here, so it’s not like it’s completely new. It’s a dirt bike, just a little bit more powerful.

Have you checked out the track?
I’ve seen pictures. It looks really tight, so it might be more like supercross, which I think will give us a good flow, but I think we’ll see the real deal once we get over there.

You and Jake Weimer have had a sort of rivalry going this year, with the supercross championship coming down to the end, and then him winning quite a few of the outdoor races, but then you found out you’d be teammates at the Motocross des Nations. Did that change the way you raced each other on the track?
No, I think we raced each other like we always have, but the cool thing about it was that Jake has been there all year. I mean, yeah, on race day over here in the USA, I know I’ve got to beat him, but at the same time, I’m happy to see the guy who’s going to fill the spot going really good, and I want to see him go over there and do his job like the rest of us plan on doing. It makes everybody confident in each other to know that we’re all contenders out here. Ivan, too. He’s been there, won it, and his experience will help us a lot, too.

And finally, you’re number 10 now, but now that you’ve got a National Championship, you can get a single-digit number. What are you going to pick?
I don’t know, I’ve got to look at my options, but for sure I’m going to pick a one-digit number. That’s what I wanted!

So, we’ve got 5, 6...
Yeah, I don’t know. I’m going to take some time to think about it. It’s cool. One digit means a lot, and it’s something you dream about as a kid growing up, so it’ll be cool.

It’s an elite club.
It definitely is.

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