Shortly after Friday’s Monster Energy AMA Supercross press conference at Angels Stadium in Anaheim, California, I spoke briefly with Red Bull KTM's Ryan Dungey. Recently married, the 25-year-old Minnesota native was the last rider to win the number-one plate before the other Ryan, Kawasaki's Ryan Villopoto, raced away with four consecutive championships. Dungey and TwoTwo Motorsports’ Chad Reed are the only former premier-class title winners to start the 2015 season.
How do you balance the aggression required to win individual races with the consistency needed to put yourself in position to have a shot at the title at the end of the season?
Experience. There’s a fine line: You learn what you can and can’t do. Knowing your setup will allow you to push as hard as you can, or want. Aggression and intensity are key, but so is putting yourself in a good position—riding the track, setting yourself up around the track.
Does the absence of Ryan Villopoto and James Stewart change your strategy?
Not much. The focus shouldn’t be on everybody else. It should be on yourself and your game plan, not the things that you can’t control. When the gate drops, it’s you and that dirt bike. Everything is up to you, putting yourself in a good position, getting a good start, and putting in laps.
Seventeen races, most of them back to back to back. Is the season is too long?
No, I don’t think it’s too long. Right after 17 rounds, we’ve got to get wound up to do another series, the outdoor season. That takes a toll on you, mentally and physically. That’s when it becomes a long season. But it’s what we signed up for, what we get to do for a living. I don’t think it’s that bad.
With live television coverage at every round, Supercross is more mainstream than ever. Have you felt an upswing in the public perception of the series during your career?
I turned pro in 2006 and just nine years later, we’re 100 percent live racing on TV. We’ve got great sponsors, great people supporting us, and the fan base is bigger than ever. Everything is growing. It’s good to see that for our sport. That’s the work of all of us in this industry. We’ve done our jobs.