BELLE PLAIN, Minn. — Fresh off of winning his third-consecutive and fourth-career Monster Energy AMA Supercross championship, Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey has announced his retirement from the sport.
Echoing the similar story of Nico Rosberg’s retirement from Formula 1 racing in December, Dungey steps down atop the sport that he has ruled mightily over just an eight-year career in the premier 450 class.
Dungey won three times this season en route to the crown, beating Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac by a scant five points in the final race of the season at Las Vegas’ Sam Boyd Stadium.
“We didn’t win the most races (this season), but the points are what matter at the end,” Dungey said after wrapping up the Supercross title. “We fought hard, tooth and nail. This was these most challenging and the hardest season of my entire career. It’s just nice to be here and sit on top.”
And just like he did on May 6 in Las Vegas, Dungey leaves the sport sitting, unequivocally, on top.
The 27-year-old has built a lifetime resume in a short time, sitting second on the 450 class overall wins list in Motocross (39) and is tied for sixth all-time on the 450SX career wins list (34) since his debut in 2010.
He scored both the Supercross and outdoor Motocross titles that year as a rookie, adding two more outdoor championships in 2012 and 2015 to go along with his three Supercross titles in the last three seasons.
In total, Dungey’s seven titles place him tied with Jeremy McGrath for second in combined 450 class championships between Supercross and Motocross, behind only Ricky Carmichael’s dozen trophies (five SX, seven MX).
Dungey, who made the announcement alongside his Red Bull KTM team at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Calif., said the decision to retire was a difficult one, but one that he is ultimately at peace with.
“It’s definitely hard to believe that this day has come. It came after a lot of thinking and praying over the last number of months,” Dungey said. “This decision has not been an easy one. My racing career has been a blessing. It started out as something my brothers and I did for fun, and back then I never dreamed I could make a living racing dirt bikes. Even if I thought I could, no one would have ever expected a kid from Minnesota to make it.”
“I’ve achieved more than I could ever have imagined or dreamed of. The idea that people could think of me as one of the greats is truly amazing for me. For all of this, I am incredibly humbled and honored.”
Dungey admitted on Tuesday that while he feels in the best shape of his life from a physical standpoint, he struggled this season with something he had never faced before — the overarching fact that his heart was no longer in the game the way it needed to be.
“I’ve gone as hard as I can for as long as I can … but the reality is that our sport is tough, the seasons are long and it takes a huge amount of sacrifice, hard work and discipline to stay on top,” he explained. “Physically, I feel that I’m in the best shape of my life; race craft-wise, I’m in the best shape of my life and I have the equipment to win … there’s no doubt about that. However, this year I have struggled mentally.”
“I have always raced because I love it and want so badly to win, but this season was just different for me,” Dungey added. “Getting my head into the game each week just wasn’t the same … and lining up and being able to focus like I always had in the past was just different. I never thought I would get to a place where I had to talk myself into starting a race, but that’s how it was for me — and the truth is, that bothers me a lot. I could easily take the paycheck and just race to finish, but that’s not who I am and not how I want to race, nor how I want to be remembered.”
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