On Saturday at the 2016 Toronto Supercross, Ryan Dungey finished the race in third, his 26th straight podium in an AMA Supercross race, beginning all the way back at the second round of the 2015 season. With another top three finish in Toronto, Dungey broke Chad Reed’s more than decade-old record for the longest unbroken streak of podiums ever in the sport.
While a podium streak doesn’t necessarily change anything – there’s no prize money or bonus points awarded for it – 26 straight trips to the box is a tremendous feat at the sport’s highest stage. It comes in an incredibly rare mix of preparation, talent, and luck. Ever since Dungey debuted KTM’s radically-new 450 at the beginning of 2015, he has been a different rider.
Dungey’s always been consistent, and that was where he’d excel – even if he wasn’t the fastest every day, he was at every race, and made the fewest mistakes. It was a formula that worked for him on his way to a 450 Supercross title and two 450 Outdoor National Championship titles prior to 2015. But with the new bike, and a new training program at the hands of renowned cycling and moto trainer Aldon Baker, Dungey had all of that same consistency with a completely new dose of speed. All of a sudden, Dungey was not only always there, but he was also almost always the fastest on the track.
But even being the fastest and most consistent rider is not always enough, not when every single race is in the crosshairs the way it is in keeping any sort of streak alive. Supercross is a rollercoaster of a sport, and with 22 riders smashed in the tight confines of any modern SX track, shit is going to happen. It is not rare for riders to get collected into unfortunate situations through no fault of their own. That doesn’t happen to Ryan Dungey.
The Dunge races with a maturity and patience that outclasses every rider on the track. Even as a rookie in 2007, he had a distinct control about his riding that was totally unique to a younger pro. He does not take unnecessary risks, and is always ready for something to happen, as exemplified in his incredible race with Marvin Musquin at Atlanta this year, where Dungey narrowly missed landing on Musquin on the last lap of the race, and went on to win it.
Perhaps it’s the fact that Dungey is so championship-minded that allows him to stay so consistent – he knows that individual races are not his end game; being number one after 17 rounds is what he’s shooting for. Dungey is not the best every weekend, but in a battle of attrition like the AMA Supercross and Motocross championships, he is, in his current form, unbeatable.