Only Ryan Dungey knows what he is going to do for 2012.
Everyone has heard the rumors that Ryan Dungey will leave Team Suzuki for greener pastures in 2012, but is there any truth to the rumor that he will move to Team KTM to be with Roger DeCoster?
First and foremost, we are officially in the silly season?thus any farfetched idea is fair game. The DeCoster connection is what makes the Dungey to KTM rumor seem so plausible. And, it didn’t hurt when DeCoster confirmed at the KTM dealer meetings a few weeks ago that he was, indeed, interested in talking to Dungey about the 2012 season. Imagine a 2012 KTM team of Dungey, Musquin, Roczen and Short.
It is important that every rumor be scoffed at?but you can’t always poke holes in every aspect of every rumor. Here are some possible scenarios that would have to take place for Dungey to end up at KTM.
Dungey is the prize for 2012.
(1) Money: It would take one million dollars to get Ryan Dungey to KTM. That is a lot of scratch in a down economy, but guess who the economy is never down for? Yep, you got it. Energy drink companies. Any move that Team KTM makes will be financed by Red Bull. Would Red Bull want Dungey? Probably.
Roger DeCoster (right) has the magic touch…as he proved with Chad Reed two years ago. Roger is solely responsible for Ryan Dungey getting his shot at the big time.
(2) Leaving Suzuki: Ken Roczen’s bike broke a couple times when he was at Suzuki…and paired to Roger DeCoster leaving Suzuki and going to KTM…Roczen left Suzuki and went to KTM. Does this sound familiar? Dungey can’t be happy that he lost the Supercross Championship because of a chain guide or that he is in a big hole in the 2011 AMA Nationals because his engine (a) ran out of gas, (b) boiled its gas or (c) just plain blew up and the gas was the cover story. Take your pick.
(3) Personalities: Not every rider likes the energy drink companies. Chad Reed is a classic example. He has experience with Monster and Rockstar and appears to be disinterested in attaching himself to either one in the future. Rumors abound about the nature of Rockstar’s relationship to Suzuki and vice versa. And without casting aspirations, maybe Dungey isn’t such a Rockstar fan either.
This is the fuel-injected 450EXC engine. It is six pounds lighter than the 450SXF engine. Dungey would never agree to race the 350XF.
(4) Bikes: KTM doesn’t have a factory 450 Supercross effort. Thus, any effort to sign Dungey to race for them would have the additional cost of producing a special run of 400 fuel-injected works bikes (assuming that the AMA even goes to the trouble to count bikes for the production rule anymore). KTM would need to homologate a bike that Dungey would be happy with. He would want fuel injection, not because the carbureted 450SXF is slow, but because his prime concern would be throttle response for the short run-up to the jumps. KTM doesn’t have to reach too far to achieve the 400 works bike level. They have a fuel-injected 450EXC engine that has the benefits of not only being fuel-injected, but six pounds lighter than the existing 450SXF engine. Although it is currently offered as an enduro engine, they could throw it into an SXF frame and only worry about getting it tuned for Dungey’s bike. On the weight front, Andrew Short’s 350SXF weighs 220 pounds (and could be lighter) and Alessi’s AMA National 450SXF is 228 pounds…throw in the lighter engine and you have a 222-pound 450 (with electric start).
Short’s 350SXF weighs 220 pounds. a special built Dungey 450SXF could weigh 222 pounds.
(5) Other offers: KTM isn’t operating in a vacuum, although when it comes to offroad bike sales they are (even the Big Four admit that KTM is the number one selling offroad brand). Honda, Kawasaki, Yamaha and Suzuki all have a say in the offers that Dungey might get. Joe Gibbs could decide to up their game to a rider level that equals their performance level. Kawasaki is probably satisfied with their Ryan and don’t need a second one. Honda already has Chad Reed as a back-up plan for Trey Canard?could they afford three riders? Suzuki, if they don’t lose Makita and Rockstar, have the upper hand in that their budget already includes a big paycheck for Dungey…but will they keep Makita? We don’t think so. Will they keep Rockstar? That is in doubt. Without that outside money, Suzuki’s bidding power is greatly reduced.
(6) Change is hard: It might seem that changing from Suzuki to KTM would scare Dungey, but really he’d be going back to DeCoster (and a good portion of the Suzuki team he worked with in 2010). As for mechanic Mike Gosselaar, Goose’s track record seems to indicate is that he goes where his rider goes. If Dungey does go to KTM, the team will have to start on a 450 Supercross bike immediately. That means lots of hours at the test track with a Supercross rider of high caliber?since Dungey will not be free for three more months.
(7) Rumor control: You can’t control a rumor once it gets started…except by starting an even more outlandish rumor. Let’s try the rumor where James Stewart will switch to Suzuki if Dungey leaves. The only fly in this ointment is that Stewart has a firm 2012 contract with Yamaha (that pays him one million dollars a year). Stewart’s signature is on that contract. And, in case you’ve forgotten, Yamaha has a track record of suing riders who break their contracts with them…just ask Kevin Windham.