Dungey has a contract with Suzuki and Suzuki has a contract with Rockstar…none of that will be true on October 1.
Although there will always be rumor mongers, whose stock and trade is making 20 predictions and hoping that ten of them will be true, there is no need to wonder about Ryan Dungey. He will be a major part of the KTM team in 2012, but since the first race of 2012 is three months away, nobody needs to get overly excited about when KTM will announce Dungey’s signing.
Because Suzuki is Rockstar sponsored and KTM is Red Bull sponsored, there is a certain amount of caution that has to be used by the parties in announcing Dungey’s arrival in orange. KTM’s Sport Director Pit Beirer has stated publicly that, “We are contractually obliged to wait until October 1 before we can announce our new signing in America.” The concern is that Rockstar, which has been cited as one of the reasons that Dungey was less than enthralled with Suzuki in the first place, has the rights to him until the clock swings over to October 1, 2011. Once Dungey fulfills his contractual obligations at Suzuki, he will be free to be the subject of some anti-climatic KTM press releases (for the “I told you so” crowd).
COMMON COURTESY DOESN’T APPLY TO ENERGY DRINKS COMPANIES
Dungey might have known about Suzuki’s race team troubles, he might have contributed to them, but according to sources, their 2012 offer to him was pitiful.
Under most modern rider contracts, the rider is released on a set date, typically September 30, but often later depending on what the manufacturer needs or wants out of the rider (for example, had the Monster Energy Cup been announced a year ago, a rider’s contract might have been extended to October 15). In the past, riders contracts went until December 31, but that was because of the Trans-AMA series in the Fall and Japanese Supercrosses in the winter. The dates were shortened when those series were dropped.
It is considered common courtesy to release a rider early so that he can find a new job (or start testing for the next season). Thus, Suzuki could release Dungey from the remaining week of his contract…and in most cases they probably would?but the hitch in the giddy-up is allegedly Rockstar. However, a team doesn’t have to release a rider, and should a rider violate his contract, which states that he cannot ride any other brand while under contract, they have been known to withhold salary payments and/or sue.
RIDERS HAVE BEEN SUED, PENALIZED AND DOCKED PAY
Brad Lackey filmed a Kawasaki print ad, while he was still at Team Honda. Honda discovered this and reportedly didn’t pay him for September, October, November and December.
When Ricky Johnson left Team Yamaha for Team Honda, he did a photo shoot with MXA, on the 1986 Honda CR250, which appeared on the cover of the January 1986 issues, but Yamaha did some calculating and determined that for a photo to make the January 1986 cover, it must have been shot in 1985 (before Ricky’s contract with Yamaha expired). They docked him $17,000.
Chad Reed, while still collecting L&M Yamaha money, but leaving the team, immediately appeared on the internet riding a Suzuki. L&M docked him a large portion of his salary. Chad sued to get his money back and the case went to arbitration and was settled out of court.
KTM is not bound by Dungey’s contract with Suzuki (which has the contract with Rockstar), but out of respect for Dungey, they will not release any info about his signing until he is free and clear of his obligations. It should be noted that KTM did release Mike Alessi for the remaining days of his KTM contract?and he has been filmed riding a Suzuki.
AS FOR THE 2012 KTM 450 SUPERCROSS BIKE
This is the fuel-injected engine that Dungey will use in 2012. You can use it now, because it is in the PDS-equipped 450EXC.
As for a bike, KTM is hard at work building a fuel-injected 450SXF production bike. The engine already exists (it was introduced earlier this year in the 450 EXC enduro bike). Thanks to a total redesign, die-casting (instead of sand casting) and a more compact size, the new engine is six pounds lighter than the current 450SXF carbureted engine (although, when you take into account the extra weight that fuel injection requires in terms of gas tank wall thickness, fuel pump, wiring harness, throttle body and magneto, the actual weight savings remains to be seen). But, the factory has plenty of tricks and Andrew Short’s 350SXF weighed 222 pounds on the KTM scale…and they said that they could have made it lighter
Additionally, the so-called “Dungey Replica” will get a new frame, but not totally new. It will most likely have reshaped and downsized down tubes to wrap under the smaller engine cases.
This is the current KTM 450SXF engine and frame rails.
This is what the fuel-injected 450 engine and frame rails will look like in 2012.
This bike is not pie-in-the-sky, KTM has more than one prototype already in testing (we assume in both Europe and in America). Pit Beirer says that the new 450SXF will be considerably lighter in weight and handling than the previous 450. Additionally, Beirer restated that KTM factory riders are free to choose between the 350SXF or the 450SXF.
It is obvious that KTM must produce the “Dungey Replica” before Ryan can race it, but AMA rules are murky on exactly what this means. Under the previous rules package, which was constantly being changed (and is what many people call a “Pocket Rule” in that it does not appear in the official rule book, but instead as a supplement tucked away in some AMA official’s pocket), it has been assumed that the eligibility rules requires 400 motorcycles to be available to the public by May 31, 2012. Of course this makes no sense, since the Supercross season ends three weeks before that…but AMA rules don’t have to make sense because they aren’t enforced against factory teams anyway (there was one notable Supercross Champion who raced a bike that never met this rule?in any shape or form). There was talk of reducing the number from 400 to 200 or even 100?given the depressed motorcycle market. And some team managers think that there might, just might, be a rule that requires a small number of bikes to be built, say 15, before the start of the season. No one knows, but you can bet that Team Honda, who lost in the Dungey signing lottery, will hold KTM’s feet to the fire on this rule…if they can figure out exactly what the rule is.
MXA would expect…a high-profile Red Bull press party and rider introduction in October and perhaps, a new bike intro…and maybe even test samples for the magazines, as early as late November or December. Allowing the motorcycle magazines to ride the bike, would quell any concerns that the machines don’t actually exist.
THE ONLY OTHER QUESTION
If Marvin is healthy, he will be a threat.
The only other point remaining, is whether KTM will hired a second 450 rider to serve as an additional test rider for the 450. The race team doesn’t want to use any of KTM’s in-house test riders, so signing a second, cheaper racer would afford them the ability to have someone else pound out laps?instead of wearing Dungey out. That test rider would have to be close to Dungey’s speed on a Supercross track to provide the kind of information that Roger DeCoster needs. Andrew Short fulfilled that purpose, until he got hurt, but he is free to pursue a new gig (which might be at the Larry Brooks Honda team, Chad Reed’s team or any of a boatload of undetermined and unfinanced Suzuki teams). Short will not be a factory rider at Honda or Kawasaki. Those gigs are taken. Thus, it is possible that Short could still take a seat at KTM again…where he would get a second chance at choosing between the 350 or the 450.
Ken Roczen proved last year that he can win indoors and out.
One thing is positive, KTM’s 250 Supercross and National roster is full. Ken Roczen and Marvin Musquin are their powerhouse team for 2012 (with Jeffrey Herlings in the wings for 2013…if they can keep him from going to Pro Circuit).