It’s Official: Team KTM Is Now A Major Player In Motocross Racing
When Ryan Dungey made the switch to Team KTM, the team had never won a motocross title in the United States. In the past, Team KTM was not even taken very seriously. Their bikes were behind the Japanese power houses of Honda, Kawasaki, Yamaha and Suzuki in both technology and performance. It was believed that when a pro rider switched to Team KTM, it signaled the “end” of their career. More recently however, Team KTM began to change and grow and invest in better machines. The new KTM’s started to attract the attention of many, equipped with state of the art components and winning numerous magazine shootouts. KTM also remained on board with the development of two strokes, while most of the other brands abandoned the cause. Team KTM began hiring more and more top riders here in the USA to reach new milestones…such as Mike Alessi and Andrew Short. Unfortunately neither of those two hopefuls were able to deliver the team with any USA championships, but team KTM pushed forward and continued its quest to be taken seriously.
When Team Red Bull KTM signed Ryan Dungey, they shocked the motocross community. Chronic MX was actually one of the first sites to report the rumor ( http://chronicmx.com/ryan-dungey-to-ride-for-ktm-under-roger-decoster-in-2012-a-rumor-gaining-traction/ ). Ryan’s decision to join KTM was strongly swayed by the fact that his mentor, Roger Decoster, had also shocked the MX world by earlier announcing his decision to become Team Manager for Team KTM here in the USA. Team KTM had high hopes for the Dungey / Decoster duo, and for the first time ever, some forecasted a possible first ever USA title for the Austrian company…expecting Dungey to be a serious challenge for the 2012 SX and MX titles. Dungey fought hard in the 2012 Supercross season, but succumbed to injury at the halfway point, yet still ending the season with an impressive 3rd overall.
Dungey recovered from his injury, and charged hard into the 2012 Lucas Oil Outdoor Motocross Series. At the first few opening rounds, Dungey had to settle behind James Stewart, who was winning on his new Suzuki. Thunder Valley, however, would change all of that, as James Stewart returned to his pattern of inconsistency. Stewart crashed and was once again out with a season ending injury. Dungey used his discipline and persistence to build momentum into an astonishing ten overall wins following Thunder Valley’s turn of events. Amazingly, Dungey would only lose two motos for the rest of the season. First, he lost a moto win at Washougal in an epic battle with Motoconcept’s Mike Alessi and secondly, he lost a moto win at Southwick, after a crash damaged his gas cap. Spewing gas from his bike, Ryan proved his ‘never give up attitude’ by making a quick pit stop and rejoining the race to finish in second place. The moto win went to Tyla Ratttray…but Ryan still took the overall for that day. Ryan Dungey’s 2012 outdoor title marked KTM’s first outdoor title ever in the USA. It is accurate to state that Dungey, Decoster and Team KTM won in absolute domination, not seen since James Stewart won a perfect season aboard his Kawasaki a few years back. With Dungey’s consistency, he successfully brought home the 2012 title as early as Unadilla. Dungey’s 10 overall wins and 18 moto wins moved him up to the 3rd ever winning-est rider in the history of AMA outdoor motocross.
Though KTM was unable to bring home an outdoor championship title in the 250 lites class, former European champions Ken Roczen and Marvin Musquin proved the team’s growing strength and their desire to win, by giving Team KTM two top 5 overall season finishes in a very stacked lites class. Musquin successfully brought Team KTM one overall win at Unadilla, while Roczen won moto 1. The two KTM lites racers have no doubt staked their claim in the 250 class as future title contenders. Chances are good for more KTM wins by both of these riders in 2013.
While KTM was busy dominating the 450 Class here in the USA, they were also sweeping wins at numerous races across the Atlantic in Europe. Red Bull KTM riders Antonio Cairoli and Jeffrey Herlings both dominated their respective classes. Antonio won his sixth FIM World Title in front of his home fans in Italy just this past weekend. Cairoli is now 3rd on the all time Grand Prix Motocross wins, with 53 to his name. In 2012 Cairoli won 10 overalls in route to giving KTM the 2012 championship title. Jeffrey Herlings meanwhile, gave KTM their second World Title after going 1-1 in the MX2 class at the same Italian venue. Herlings did have some issues throughout the year, but he managed to hold strong for his first major championship title and yet another milestone for KTM’s motocross team. Herlings said “it felt a little bit like home today because of all my Dutch fans that travelled to celebrate my title win”. Herlings won 9 overalls and 18 moto wins for the season. This year has been a remarkable year for KTM, one that will go down in the record books, on both sides of the world, as their best ever. In offroad enduro racing team KTM was equally as dominant claiming multiple titles and dozens of wins. It’s official that Team KTM is definitely here to stay and has now proven to be a major player in both motocross and offroad racing. Challenged by the Japanese manufacturers….KTM won an unbelievable three quarters of all world motocross titles in 2012. It will be exciting to see what lies ahead for Team KTM as they stake their claim to be title contenders for many more years to come. Reporting for Chronic MX, I’m Charli G!