With his season ahead now all mapped out, Taupo motocross ace Ben Townley is ready to put his head down and get serious with his racing.
Sidelined for almost two years because of a nagging shoulder injury, the 25-year-old former world champion made his comeback to the top flight in the United States this year. He finished the season there with a very creditable ranking of No.4 in the pro motocross ranks.
Just last month he signed a deal to race for the French-based CLS Kawasaki team, a return to his roots in a way because Kawasaki was the brand he raced throughout his junior career in New Zealand and also the brand he tasted some of his greatest successes, winning the East Coast Lites Supercross title in the US in 2007 and also finishing a very close runner-up – behind his Kawasaki team-mate at the time, Ryan Villopoto – in the AMA 250cc outdoor motocross series.
As his build-up for a return to Europe and the MX1 world championships gathers momentum, Townley is jumping at every opportunity to race the big Kawasaki KX450F.
This Saturday night he will race at round four of the Australasian Super X Championships at North Harbour Stadium, the first of only two rounds to be held in New Zealand this season, and he’s brimming with confidence.
“The last time I raced a supercross was at Manukau in January, but basically this bike is set-up exactly the same and I’ve been doing a lot of practise, so I’m definitely ready to go,” said Townley, who wrapped up the New Zealand Supercross Championships for Kawasaki that night in Manukau, just hours before catching his flight to the United States and the start of his campaign there.
“I’m definitely on the pace. I have a lot of confidence at the moment, so I should go well at North Harbour Stadium.
“I’ve had a bit of time on this bike now and I’m feeling really comfortable with it.”
Significantly, it may be two fellow Kawasaki riders who give him the most trouble on Saturday night, the Super X series leader, American rider Josh Hansen, and Mount Maunganui’s Mason Phillips, the man who won the Lites (250cc) class in the supercross nationals last season.
Of course, Townley, Hansen and Phillips will also have other talented individuals to contend with.
They will have to deflect heat from Kiwi internationals Cody Cooper (Suzuki) and Michael Phillips (Honda), Australian hotshots Jay Marmont (Yamaha), Tye Simmonds (KTM) and Daniel Reardon (Honda), and American brothers Jeff and Mike Alessi (Yamaha and KTM respectively), just to name a few.
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com