Red Bull/KTM Factory Team rider Ryan Dungey finished 3rd overall at the opening round of the AMA Supercross Series effectively earning KTM’s first-ever U.S. Supercross class podium finish.
Dungey looked impressive from the start of the first practice session on his newly released KTM 450 SX-F Factory Edition race machine. He qualified third fastest from practice and was placed in the second heat.
He nearly nailed the holeshot once the gate dropped for his eight-lap heat but was cut off as the riders rounded the first corner and dropped back to 3rd. He quickly passed Brett Metcalfe to move into 2nd behind Andrew Short at the end of the first lap. Dungey, Short and a hard-charging James Stewart soon found themselves in a three-way battle for the lead. Stewart made the pass to take over the lead position while Dungey and Short battled it out for 2nd place. Dungey was able to make the pass on the final lap to earn 2nd overall in the heat.
At the start of the main event, Dungey leaped out front early to earn another good start on his KTM. He rounded the first corner in 5th position and passed Mike Alessi for 4th within the first few turns. He continued his forward momentum making a clean inside pass on Ivan Tedesco on the third lap of the race to move into podium position. Out front, Ryan Villopoto led the way while Chad Reed sat in the runner-up position and Dungey sat approximately 5 seconds back in 3rd.
Dungey spent the first half of the race closing the gap on Reed, turning lap times nearly a full second faster. On the ninth lap Dungey made a mistake and tucked the front end causing him to crash. He quickly recovered but lost his position to Stewart. On lap twelve, Stewart made a slight mistake that Dungey capitalized on and moved his KTM back into 3rd. On the next lap, Reed crashed which allowed Dungey and Stewart to close on him. The three riders then began a battle for 2nd place that ran for the next four laps.
The crowd was on their feet as the three battled it out swapping positions. On the sixteenth lap, Stewart crashed, marking one crash for each of them. Stewart’s crash cost him a lot of time and he recovered in 6th position allowing Reed and Dungey to pull away. Dungey continued to pressure Reed for the remaining laps eventually crossing the line in 3rd just a bike length behind Reed.
Dungey’s podium finish marked the first for the KTM brand in its U.S. Supercross racing history. It also marked the first podium for the new KTM 450 SX-F Factory Edition. “My bike ran flawlessly tonight,” remarked Dungey after the race. “I would have definitely liked to pass Chad and take 2nd tonight, but I am happy to earn KTM its first podium. I can’t thank the team enough for all they have done for me in the development of this new bike.”
Red Bull/KTM Factory Team Manager Roger DeCoster commented, “The entire team is excited for the podium finish but we also know that 2nd place was within our reach tonight. We were happy with Ryan’s performance but we know we have some areas that need work and we will begin to correct them immediately. We hope to continue this success into next week and improve our position on the podium.”
Next Event: Phoenix, AZ – January 14, 2012
Photos courtesy Hoppenworld