News 12 Jan 2010

AMA SX: Suzuki's Dungey podiums on debut at Anaheim


Reigning Supercross Lites and AMA 250cc Motocross class champion Ryan Dungey raced to second place in his first Supercross Main event at Saturday’s 2010 Monster Energy AMA/ FIM season opener at Anaheim Stadium in California.

The Rockstar Makita Yoshimura rider took a close second place to winner James Stewart aboard the RM-Z450 Suzuki in front of almost 44,000 spectators at Angel Stadium.

Dungey had the second-fastest lap time in practice and remained consistent throughout practice and qualifying. At the drop of the gate for the Main, Dungey and his fuel-injected RM-Z450 shot out of the gate and grabbed the holeshot. He continued to put distance between himself and Stewart, who was in second place, leading for an astounding 17 laps amidst the roar of the crowd who stood and cheered the entire 19-minute race. As lappers began to factor into the race, Dungey gave up the lead to Stewart but didn’t give up the race: He battled the final three laps, nearly overtaking Stewart on the last lap. At the wave of the chequered flag, Dungey took the second spot on the podium.

“I’m really happy with Ryan’s finish” Team Manager Roger DeCoster said after the race. “I think for his first season on the 450, it’s awesome. He did really, really well. I mean, when you look at third place was half a lap back, the whole team is really happy. I had a good feeling we’d be on the podium before the race, but the way he did it was even better than I expected. You can see Ryan did not luck into that position today; he rode solidly, like a veteran.”

“Tonight was fun,” Dungey said, surrounded by a crowd of fans outside the Rockstar Makita Suzuki race rig. “I came in second, but I can’t be mad. I worked really hard this off-season to make sure that I would be up front, because that’s where I want to be. I was able to get some really good, clean laps out front and I think that was very valuable.”

“Right off the start I had instant power,” Dungey said of his holeshot. “I have never launched out of the gate like that before, and it stayed on and kept powering. The Rockstar Makita Suzuki bike did a really great job tonight, EFI, suspension, the whole team helped me make the bike work great and I’m glad we could put it on the podium.” As for knowing the reigning Supercross champion was behind him, Dungey said, “I knew he was behind me from the beginning. I could hear him, I know what his bike sounds like, but I was just trying to ride my race.”

Austin Stroupe also made his Supercross debut on Saturday night. The 19 year old is set to compete in the Supercross Lites East series, but due to an injury to team mate Matt Moss, Stroupe will race the first few rounds of the 450 class. Stroupe grabbed the holeshot in the second qualifier, ahead of James Stewart. In the Main Event Stroupe completed four laps before succumbing to a mistake that took him out of the race.

“It’s too bad that Austin and Chad Reed bumped, but it showed that Austin can do well on a 450,” DeCoster said. “It’s his first race, and in his first qualifier he got fourth and the holeshot, which is really good.”

“Getting the holeshot in the qualifier, that was definitely the highlight of the night for me,” said Stroupe. “I didn’t know what to believe. I didn’t know if I was in a different world or what! I prayed on the line for a good start, because I just wanted to get qualified for the Main, and then I got the holeshot and I heard the fans cheering.”

Though Stroupe won’t be competing in the entire 450 class series, he knows that this experience will help him in his battle for the Lites East Championship. After the race, Stroupe reflected on the lesson he could take from his shortened debut. “I learned tonight that I just have to be on my game all the time. Every guy out there is blistering fast, but I think the switch to Rockstar Makita Suzuki has been nothing but great for me and I’m comfortable here.”

Watching the race was team mate Matt Moss. The Australian will wait a few more weeks before making his Supercross debut, but he’s already mentally preparing for his first race. “I feel good on a 450, and as long as I’m 100 per cent I think I can go out there and do well. I don’t want to go out there half hearted, I want to go out there and give it my all. I want to show them what I’ve got.”

“That race was amazing,” Moss said after the return of his team mates from the track. “It was great to watch Dungey. He went from a 250 championship to battling the best in the world. He pretty much dominated for 17 laps. This only my second time being at the AMA Supercross races, and when you watch it on TV you dream of watching a battle like that, and to see it unfold in person was amazing.”

A Suzuki RM-Z250 was also on the podium Saturday night as Team Rockstar Energy Suzuki, Presented by Canidae’s Ryan Morais took the third spot in the Supercross Lites West Series.