The next step in Ryan Dungey’s career actually began at a post-race press conference after the High Point National in June of 2008. Dungey, riled for three months over tossing the Supercross West Lites points lead to Jason Lawrence, had finally had enough. After Lawrence collided with him again at High Point, Dungey snapped, launching into an anti-J-Law tirade at the press conference. Dungey would no longer be pushed around. A few months later, he was winning races against the unstoppable force of Ryan Villopoto. Then Dungey handled the pressure of battling Team Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki for a supercross title, and he delivered. Then he went about winning arguably the most competitive series in the sport – the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross 250 Championship.
The contender list was deep, littered with world champions, veteran stars and young upstarts. And Dungey was taking on the Pro Circuit army – a team that had never lost a 250cc championship outdoors since debuting the Kawasaki KX250F in 2005. In the face of adversity, he kept it together to land his first AMA National Championship. Dungey is now a complete package, one sure to be reckoned with on a 450 next season.
Credit out to Christophe Pourcel, though. He was dealt a few bad hands throughout the summer, from stomach troubles, to bouncing gates to red flagged holeshots, to the most untimely of untimely mechanical failures. Pourcel ends the year second in points, but even now, after 24 motos, it’s impossible to say who was the better rider. They were that close, that even, and that impressive.
For Dungey, the question was the big picture – could he put together a championship? He answered that question this year. For Pourcel, the big picture was even bigger. Two years ago, he was in a wheelchair, with many predicting his racing career was over. Getting all the way back to the level he did is just as big of an accomplishment as winning the championship in the end.