Ryan Dungey To New Team In 2012
All indicators point to Ryan Dungey not returning to Suzuki after the 2011 season.
Since a few rounds into the 2010 AMA Nationals, rumors have been floating around that Suzuki and Ryan Dungey weren’t getting along. Why? At the time, the rumor said it was money. According to the rumor, Dungey wasn’t getting paid his win bonuses (including his seven-figure championship bonus). Back then, I talked to Suzuki’s Roger Decoster about it, and he denied the rumor, saying then (a couple of months after the rumor had started) that Dungey had been paid.
However, he didn’t indicated whether Dungey was paid on schedule, and when a company like Suzuki budgets for racing, it’s easy to imagine that even they wouldn’t have figured Dungey to win the Supercross Championship (and the 450 outdoor title, for that matter) in his rookie season, and it’s kind of understandable that it would’ve taken them a little while to come up with the cash.
A championship bonus on his level is at least a million bucks, and individual race wins can be anywhere from $50,000 to $200,000. According to the rumors, Dungey’s race-win bonuses were $100k each.
So, doing that simple math (and not counting the bonuses for other podium spots), Dungey would’ve been due 1.6 million bucks for SX alone, on top of his salary. And then outdoors, it got even crazier, as he won 10 Nationals along with the title. That’s 2 million bucks.
That’s 3.6 million dollars in bonuses alone.
However, although money may be a factor in the overall scheme of things, all indicators say that Dungey ended up getting paid what he was owed. But as I understand it, he’s still leaving Suzuki at the end of the year.
As I said, money may be a factor, but Dungey also isn’t happy with the mechanical issues he has had this year. He lost the supercross title by 10 points, and doing simple math (although things aren’t ever this simple), if you take away his mechanical DNF (from a derailed chain) at Anaheim 2 and give him just fifth place (which is the worst that he finished all season besides the DNF), he would’ve won that title by five points. Instead, he finished third. And this doesn’t include the engine failure at Daytona in his heat race that set his night back quite a bit, too.
Now, outdoors, he finds himself trailing Ryan Villopoto at exactly the wrong time, as Villopoto is gaining speed and confidence with only three rounds left. He’s down by seven points to Villopoto. But remember the second moto in Texas, where Dungey had a massive lead with a lap and a half to go and his bike quit because (as I heard it) fuel-boil had basically made his bike run out of fuel? He had that win easy. Give him the 25 points in that moto, instead of the zero points he got, and take away one from Villopoto (as he’d have finished one spot farther back), and Dungey would actually be ahead by 19 points right now instead of down by seven.
As I understand it, this is the bigger motivating factor for his leaving Suzuki. And the Suzuki bike, outside of that, is amazing according to anyone who raced it. You can ask Chad Reed or Mike Alessi what the RM-Z450 is like to race, and they’ll rave – off the record, of course. So it’s not about the equipment so much as personnel.
And that’s where the rest of this comes together. Honda has a spot open on its team for 2012, which could be filled by Josh Grant again (he’s on a one-year deal for basically no money), but I don’t think Honda wants to pay a Dungey-sized salary, especially when they believe Trey Canard can beat him. Yamaha doesn’t have a factory effort anymore, although that could change. Kawasaki is full with friends and training partners Ryan Villopoto and Jake Weimer. And again, Kawasaki wouldn’t want to pay Dungey when they have at least one guy who can beat him.
Just this stuff by itself leaves only one factory that seems likely for Dungey.
Now, add in the fact that the guy who essentially created and raised Dungey into the racer he is today – Roger Decoster – is the manager at this same manufacturer’s race team, and he has a direct line back to the factory for budget…
Where there’s smoke, there’s fire, and the fire in this scenario is that Ryan Dungey will be racing KTMs next year.
It’s possible it will be another team. Nothing is completely out of the question. But odds are it’s KTM.
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