In the second part of our Ryan Dungey trilogy we discuss the toughest times of his racing career that are fortunately now behind him…
As Ryan Dungey’s 450cc career continued he began to struggle. Dungey landed KTM its first-ever AMA 450cc National Championship in 2012, but overall it was a struggle. He struggled with his settings, and he struggled with trusting his team and what they were doing to help him. It got so bad that there was a time when he planned on 2015 being his final season as a racer.
“I definitely found myself in a tough position last year,” Dungey said. “After last year, I probably would’ve said that after this year I was going to be done. Not that I wanted to be, though; I knew in the back of my head that I was probably just over-thinking things and that I had too many good years left not to go forward.
“But there were times last year that were tough. They tested me. They even brought the worst out of me sometimes and I wasn’t happy with the way I handled the situations. But after three years of some tough times – some great success, too, but some tough moments – with KTM, they came out with a new bike that was hands-down better.
“Also, another step, I started working with Aldon Baker, and it’s almost like that saying: The enemy will fight you the hardest when they’re the closest; and when you’re about to give up, that’s the time to keep digging. And that’s what that reminds me of. I wasn’t going to give up because I knew I had one year left on my contracts, and I wanted to make the most of it.
“It was like, ‘If this is it, I don’t want to have regrets.’ But finally things started getting better: The team got better, the bike got better, I finally put my trust in the crew here at KTM – and that was my fault that I wasn’t doing that before. I was trying to take things into my own hands all the time.”
Motocrossers are notorious for trying to take on everything themselves. Being raised in an individual sport where you feel that everything’s riding on your shoulders, it’s easy to just go through life like that all the time.
“But, as I started working with Aldon, I started realizing things: I started to see the bad pathways I was going down and the mistakes I was making…”
Aldon Baker brought more than just better physical fitness to Ryan Dungey, he brought a calm to him. Dungey is just a human being after all. He isn’t perfect.
“Yes, I’m very much so human!” Dungey said. “And there was a routine there that Aldon was able to help me understand that I was doing wrong and he was blown away by some of the stuff I’d do. He was like, ‘You don’t need to do that!’.
“Aldon’s probably been one of the biggest impacts on my life, and it’s not just about racing, it’s about life in general. He’s an amazing human being. I love being around the guy. So, as I was going through the beginning of this season, I realised a lot of things: I realised, look, I do want to race.
“I said, ‘Whether I win or lose this year, it ain’t going to be the deciding factor because you can win and be terrible next year. It has to be because you enjoy it.’ So, win or lose, I was like, ‘Look, I want to go another two years. There’s still a lot in me that I want to accomplish.’
“So, I’ve got 2016 and 2017 with the guys now. There was a lot of stuff to figure out, and sometimes when you’re in the thick of it all you’re not seeing clearly and that was me at the time.”
With Aldon Baker in his corner, Dungey is going to be a much tougher man to beat…