Ryan Dungey is currently one of the hottest properties in AMA Supercross
. But surprisingly, the Minnesota native was not that well known as an amateur. In fact, Suzuki’s
Roger DeCoster took a small gamble when he hired Dungey as an unheralded intermediate. It looks as though that bet has paid off, however, now that Dungey is leading the Monster Energy AMA Supercross series by nine points over Ryan Villopoto. The 450-class rookie claimed his first-ever victory in the premier division at the Phoenix round of the series and carries a nine-point lead into this week’s race at Anaheim 2.
Roger DeCoster is the man behind Rockstar Makita Suzuki
We spoke with DeCoster about his thoughts on Dungey and why he chose to bring him into the Suzuki camp.
You took a small gamble when you hired Ryan Dungey as a relatively unknown intermediate rider. It seems as though that gamble has paid off.
Yes, it’s been really good working with him – he’s been good to work with from the very beginning. He’s always exceeded what we expected of him and last week was a good example. Hopefully we can keep going with him.
What things did you see when you looked at this amateur rider from Minnesota?
His attitude and work ethic were good; and he had a desire to learn – to always find a better way. He had good cornering speed right from the beginning.
What things do you see him doing right now that you like?
He came in and he gave us the feeling he belonged here. He didn’t look like a newcomer in the class, and that’s not so easy to do when you have to go up against guys like Stewart and Chad and Villopoto. Now he is able to keep the pace and not back down.
You have to feel he will get faster as the year goes on and he adjusts to the big bike and the longer motos.
DeCoster and Dungey after Dungey's Phoenix win.
I think the longer motos will not be a problem for him; his fitness is good and his endurance is very good. I think the hardest thing when you come up is dealing with the pressure every week. The mental pressure to not let any little mishap bother you – and they will happen, they happen to everybody. Not let those little things affect you and go to the next race with the same attitude and the same confidence.
Perhaps he learned a little of that a few years ago – it seemed like the pressure got to him when he was leading the Lites championship?
Yes, he definitely did and it looks like he learned from it. People can tell you about the pressure but there’s nothing like going through it yourself. Some guys learn quick; some guys learn slow and some guys never learn.
How is Ryan as far as being able to relate to you and the mechanics what the bike is doing?
Ryan Dungey leading the Phoenix final. He went on to take the win by a comfortable margin.
With all the young riders, you need to learn to read between the lines on what they tell you, but he is very close with the mechanics and he is very close to the engine guy. He’s not a guy who wants to leave the track as soon as he comes off, he likes to hang around, he likes what he is doing and he’s been a good guy to work with.
So will you use this formula when you go look for the next young rider – picking, maybe a lesser known rider with an excellent attitude and work ethic, rather than looking at just raw speed?
Yeah, for sure. He was still an intermediate and I had a good feeling about him. He came and talked to us a few times and I had a good feeling about it.
Do you think a good attitude rubs off on other riders on the team?
I do, and I it works to other way, too. If you have an odd guy it affects the other guys. But if you have a focused guy it seems to rub off on the others.