In one of the most exciting and unexpected announcements in the history of American motocross, four-time AMA National Motocross Champion Ryan Dungey will come out of retirement to contest the opening rounds of the 2022 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship.
The Minnesota native amassed one of the most decorated careers in series history before he announced his retirement from racing just prior to the start of the 2017 summer campaign, but now, five seasons later, he’ll return to the starting gate as a member of Red Bull KTM Factory Racing, with whom he captured the 2012 and 2015 titles in the 450 Class. Fittingly, Dungey’s comeback will also welcome the return of his famed No. 5 on the KTM 450 SX-F Factory Edition.
“We knew that the 50th anniversary season of the world’s most prestigious motocross championship was destined to be one for the ages, but nothing could have prepared us for the competitive return of two of motocross’ most prolific champions in Ryan Dungey and Antonio Cairoli,” said Davey Coombs, President, MX Sports Pro Racing. “When Ryan retired in 2017 it certainly felt like he still had a lot left in the tank, so it was bittersweet to watch him step away in his prime. While a return to action was always something we’d hoped would happen, today’s announcement is unprecedented and we cannot wait to watch two ageless legends of the sport go bar-to-bar with their younger counterparts this summer. Seeing the #5 and #222 together on the track will truly be one of the series’ landmark moments.”
Dungey’s last Pro Motocross start came at the Thunder Valley National during the 2016 season, where he suffered a season-ending injury just three rounds into the summer.
Dungey was just 27 years old when he hung up his helmet and boots in 2017, putting pause on a career that saw him capture 46 career wins, third all time, earn 91 career podiums, second all time, and prevail with three 450 Class titles (2010, 2012, 2015) and a 250 Class crown (2009). Now, at the age of 32 and just over two months after the birth of his second child, Dungey is set to continue his unprecedented journey.
“I’m really excited about the opportunity to race the first couple rounds of the outdoors for Red Bull KTM. I’ve had a lot of success with KTM in my most recent years of racing and it’s exciting to go back and race for the same team with a lot of great personnel. I have a lot of trust with the team, which breeds confidence sitting on the line knowing I have good people behind me and we’ve got a great dirtbike underneath us. This is a stacked class and it’s been a long time since I’ve been on the line with them but I’m excited to be back on the gate. I’ve got a lot of respect for the sport and the riders, so I don’t go into this underestimating anybody. I’m excited to just be out there racing with everybody and see what we can do.”
Just one week ago, KTM also announced Italian MXGP icon Antonio Cairoli would make his Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship debut at the opening rounds, bringing his nine FIM World Motocross Championship credentials to the states at the age of 36, just five months removed from his retirement from Europe’s premier series.
The two have gone head-to-head here in the U.S. just once, at the 2010 FIM Motocross of Nations from Colorado’s Thunder Valley Motocross Park, and engaged in a memorable battle for the win for their respective countries, from which Dungey emerged triumphant in leading Team USA to victory on home soil.
Combined, Dungey and Cairoli provide the single-most-successful combination of team-mates the sport has ever seen as they join Cooper Webb and Aaron Plessinger, two AMA National Champions in their own right, for a historic line-up at Red Bull KTM Factory Racing.
They, and the rest of the star-studded international field of the world’s fastest riders, will line up for the first time together on May 28 in Southern California at the Fox Raceway National before traveling to Northern California for the legendary Hangtown Motocross Classic on June 4 in Sacramento.
The 50th Anniversary of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship will be bookended by the holiday weekends that serve as the proverbial starting point and finishing point of the summer, with the season-opening round over Memorial Day Weekend on May 28 and the season finale over Labor Day Weekend on September 3.
The 12-round season will visit 10 different states, visiting iconic venues with decades of history like the Hangtown Classic (June 4), High Point Raceway (June 18), RedBud MX (July 2), The Wick 338 (July 9), Spring Creek MX Park (July 16), Washougal MX Park (July 23), Unadilla MX (August 13), and Budds Creek Motocross Park (August 20), as well as additional world-class venues in Fox Raceway (May 28 & September 3), Thunder Valley Motocross Park (June 11), and Ironman Raceway (August 27).
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