Ryan Dungey embraces new team, diet

New race team. New sponsor. New bike. Even a new diet.

It’s safe to say it’s been a year of transition for Motocross star Ryan Dungey.

Dungey, 22, joined the Red Bull KTM racing team this offseason after battling a frustrating sequence of mechanical issues last year. Dungey’s new team built him a new bike customized to his body type and racing preferences.

And the new diet? He underwent a series of tests, from endurance tests to strength tests to allergy tests, and learned he was allergic to things he ate almost every day: eggs and dairy.

“That was huge for me, because milk, yogurt, all that stuff, I ate it so much,” Dungey said. “I didn’t realize a lot of the fatigue and tiredness I was fighting throughout the year was really the milk and dairy allergy. Now I’m on a gluten-free diet and I feel so much better -- physically stronger, thinking clearly, having more energy.”

All the changes seem to be working for Dungey, one of the best and most recognizable names in the sport. He’s won the last two events and is third in the AMA Motocross standings despite missing five races with a shoulder injury. Second place in the standings, currently occupied by David Millsaps, is within striking distance of Dungey heading into Saturday’s Red Bull Budds Creek National in Mechanicsville, Md., which will be broadcast at 2 p.m. on NBC.

“It’s been a great year thus far,” Dungey says. “It’s been a great fit, a great match, even with a lot of tension getting the new bike ready.”

It’s a long shot Dungey -- the 2010 champion -- will challenge Ryan Villopoto in the series standings, but he still considers this season a success. And race results aren’t the only thing on Dungey’s mind.

Along with Target, he’s holding a charity cycling race in Minneapolis on July 15 to benefit the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

“It all kind of started when I was 15, my grandmother passed away from liver cancer after fighting it through a lot of years,” Dungey says. “I’ve always said to myself if I can make a difference, I will. And this is a great opportunity to do that, to put on a bike ride and raise some money.”