Ryan Dungey has clinched the 2010 Monster Energy AMA/ FIM World Supercross Championship after racing to fourth place at Saturday night's 15th round in Seattle.
The Rockstar Makita Suzuki Rookie - in his first season in the Supercross Class after moving up from the 250cc Lites class - gave the 2010 RM-Z450 its first major Championship success of 2010 in front of a packed-out audience at the Qwest Field Stadium.
Dungey is now untouchable in the points standings with two rounds remaining, leading on 320 points, compared to nearest rival Ryan Villopoto on 266; and with only 50 points available.
"It's been an amazing season to sit here after 15 rounds and be the Champion," Dungey said after the race. "It was a lot of hard work and effort put in by everybody on the Rockstar Makita Suzuki team. As a little kid, I would dream as I watched races and say, 'One day, I want to be that guy.' This really is a dream come true, and all the hard work has paid off. The whole team gives 110 per cent every week, and when we're all on the same page, this is what can happen. I have to thank the Man Above for making all this happen."
Team Manager Roger DeCoster said: "It was a great season and we're thankful and happy and we proved that the equipment is good and Suzuki has a good base bike to work with. The Rockstar Makita Suzuki team did a good job setting it up."
The race at Qwest Field in Seattle was the roughest and toughest track of the season. DeCoster said: "The track was really tough and some of the ruts were so deep and so long that they went from one end of the stadium to the other on the straights. When you see guys this good sitting down while riding, it made everyone look humble. They didn't look like Super Champions out there; until you saw the three-foot-deep ruts close up."
Despite the rough track and intense racing, Dungey pulled through and earned enough points to secure the Supercross Championship; and with it has now entered an elite club with only one other member: Supercross racers who've won the title in their Rookie year. The other rider who managed that is Jeremy McGrath.
"Ryan is now a Rookie Champion, which is pretty amazing," DeCoster said after the race. "Only Jeremy McGrath has done that before, but Dungey is a World Champion because this is an AMA and FIM Championship. I don't believe that was the case with McGrath's first Championship, so this is an amazing feat."
Dungey started off the season just the way Team Manager DeCoster and ace Technician Mike "Goose" Gosselaar had planned: At Anaheim 1, Dungey shot out of the starting gate and made it known that he wasn't racing for just a podium spot; he was gunning for the top spot. After leading lap after lap, defending Supercross champion James Stewart caught up to him. Most racers may have conceded to Stewart and his reputation for fast and aggressive racing, but not Dungey: He battled every second of the race until the checkered flag flew, and then he was only a very short distance behind Stewart. The tone for 2010 was set. Dungey was out to race hard and win. That night, Dungey took the second spot on the podium and "Goose" took the MMI award for outstanding technician. The match-up of Dungey, DeCoster, Goose and the RM-Z450 was already making people take notice.
The fuel-injected RM-Z450 was well suited to Dungey's racing style, and it propelled him to great starts and fast getaways at the beginning of the season. At Round 2, he got his first Supercross victory and the Holeshot. His RM-Z450's immediate throttle response, impressive power output and race-minded gearing gave Dungey the winning-edge he needed.
He continued to collect points, and became the series points-leader after Round 2 in Phoenix. Amazingly, the talented rider never gave up that lead. While he didn't always win - and a few races he didn't find the podium - no other racer on the track was as consistent and no other machine was as mechanically-sound as the Rockstar Makita Suzuki RM-Z450.
Dungey won a total of five races: Phoenix was the spot for the first Supercross win of his career, and he followed that up with wins in Anaheim 2, Atlanta, Dallas and St. Louis and has finished on the podium in 10 of the 15 races so far.
He got three of the first four holeshots of the season, including Anaheim 1, Phoenix, and San Francisco. The holeshot at Round 3 in Anaheim 2 went to Dungey's team-mate Austin Stroupe, who was also riding the fuel-injected RM-Z450.
Dungey's appeal has stretched further than the reach of Supercross. With a slew of impressive sponsors, including Rockstar, Makita, Yoshimura, and Fox Racing, he's even got the attention of retail giant Target and the extremely selective Nike 6.0: Dungey helped design Nike's Air MX boot and was the only racer who rode the entire season with them. He also has two very important racing legends standing by him who believe he is the future of the sport of motocross racing: five-time World Champion Roger DeCoster and Supercross "Greatest of All Time" Ricky Carmichael. "It's nice to win it with someone like Ryan because we picked him up from the Suzuki amateur support program and we started off with somebody who a lot of people weren't paying attention to," DeCoster said. "He came and talked to us a few times and he gave off a good impression and we had a feeling he would be good. We tried it out and he got better and better, and after this season, now he's a Rookie Champion."
He also credits his family and their unwavering support for his success, as well as the Rockstar Makita Suzuki team that has put together one of the most impressive race bikes ever to hit the Supercross track: the 2010 fuel-injected RM-Z450.
Seattle results: 1. Kevin Windham (Honda); 2. Tommy Hahn (Suzuki); 3. Justin Brayton (Yam); 4. Ryan Dungey (Rockstar Makita Suzuki); 5. Davi Millsaps (Honda); 6. Nick Wey (Kawasaki); 7. Michael Byrne (Yamaha); 8. Chad Reed (Kawasaki); 9. Andrew Short (Honda); 10. Kyle Chisholm (Yamaha).
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