New Zealand’s Ben Townley is notable for his absence at the weekend’s opening round of the Motocross World Championships in Bulgaria.
The Bay of Plenty rider will miss the first part of the 2011 FIM World Motocross championships after a run of injuries starting back in November last year when the former World MX2 Champion dislocated his hip during a round of the Auckland, New Zealand, round of the Australasian SuperX series.
After recovering enough to get back into pre season training the CLS/Pro Circuit Kawasaki team rider suffered another injury when he broke his jaw in a practice crash in late January, while he was putting final touches on preparation for his assault on the MX1 world title.
“I don’t remember about my crash, my dad was there and told me that it was a small crash, but I broke my jaw and that was a problem. I visited two specialists in New Zealand and another in Marseille 10 days ago, who are all some of the best in the world; it was important for me to talk with them.
“Before that I was confused with the situation, as I visited several doctors and they all had a different opinion. Now that I’ve learnt so much about head injuries I think that riders are crazy to go back so fast on a bike after head injuries; when you break a bone you know that it will take you six or eight weeks, but head is much more complicated.
“I feel that I’m ready to go back on a bike, but it’s too early to race. I’m so thankful to the team as they never put any pressure on me, everyone has been understanding the situation and that means a lot for me, they took me some pressure off. I’ve been working physically since seven weeks now, and I improved all the time so I’m happy.
“It’s difficult to say when I will be back racing; it can be in two weeks, four weeks or more. My goal was to be there to win the title, now of course it’s over and I will be back when I will feel comfortable. In the past I came back to early after an injury, I will not do the same mistake; I know that my speed will not be a problem, but I need some foundation before coming back. For sure I want to win some races before the end of the season.”
In the meantime, his GP rivals will be piling on the points without him to worry about.
“I don’t really worry about the other people, I just guess only the real top guys, who can win all the time; it’s Clement Desalle and Antonio Cairoli. They will be there all the time I think, I’m 26 now and I don’t worry about the other competitors. It was nice to beat them last year in Budd’s Creek and then Lakewood (in the United States), it was the only races that I won last year. I was winning in front of people from America and Europe and that was special to me; I think that the last time I won a race was Glen Helen in 2007.
“I feel bad at the moment as I can’t race, but it’s nice to be back with the team. I’m involved in a strong team with a good group of people, they are working really well and the atmosphere is good in the team.”
Townley is now back in Belgium for his first ride aboard his new CLS/Pro Circuit Kawasaki and he feels he is ready to ride again though racing is still a little while away at this stage.
“I feel that I’m ready to get back on a bike, but it’s too early to race.
“My goal was to be there to win the title, now of course it’s over and I will be back when I feel comfortable.”
Townley is looking forward working with his new team and racing for wins by the end of the season and, although his team is not an official factory team, he is more than confident that his team and his bike will be capable of putting him in a position to beat his MX1 competitors once he is fit and healthy.
“The Kawasaki as a stock bike is so good that you have a very good foundation to start from, and the Kawasaki suits me very well. I know what Mitch (Payton) and Harry (Nolte) can do and I’m very confident.
“I’m so thankful to the team as they never put any pressure on me, everyone has been very understanding of the situation and that means a lot for me.”
© Photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com