Ben Townley is making his mark in American Supercross. Ben has 3 wins so far this season; St. Louis, Daytona, and Dallas, and with only one race left in the Eastern series and a 3 point difference, it’s coming down to Ryan Morais and Ben Townley for the Championship (with Darcy Lange as an outside contender as well).
This interview was at the RCA dome in Indianapolis where Ben graciously had Mitch Payton grab me a chair so we could sit down and chat.
Angela: Ben, how are you feeling about tonight’s race?
Ben: I am looking forward to it. I am anxious to get out there because after last weekend I was pretty disappointed how I ended up in seventh. So I want to try and make amends for that a little bit and finish stronger.
A: Well, seventh wasn’t the best but you were coming off two back-to-back wins in St. Louis and Daytona.
Ben: Yeah, that was pretty cool; those were two really good rounds. After Atlanta I kind of found my feet and realized where I was at, so I could go out there in St. Louis and give it a shot, and I did and I ended up winning. Daytona was real good for me, just the way the track was, it suited me a lot. Going into Orlando I was hoping for the same and I was having a real good race; unfortunately I left the door open a little bit and paid for it.
A: You are a strong rider and you have a great team behind you, what is keeping you strong right now?
Ben: I’ve got a whole bunch of things in my corner. Aldon Baker is my trainer, I live in Florida where I’ve got everything I need down there to train and prepare for the races. Obviously having Mitch (Payton) and Pro-Circuit is great, they contribute so much. I am working hard, I want to do well, and I want to succeed. It’s been a life time dream for me to race here in the USA, so I am not going to let it slip by.
A: How do you feel your first year at AMA Supercross is going?
Ben: It’s been a lot of what I’ve expected and a lot more that I didn’t expect. The racing is so intense and close, making those victories even more awesome, it felt sweet to get those after last year’s disappointing injuries. Being able to live my dream is pretty cool.
A: You are from New Zealand where the tracks are more like America’s National tracks. We are just a few weeks away from the start of the National series, is that where you are most comfortable?
Ben: I am definitely comfortable with motocross tracks, but at the moment I am working at the same level for both motocross and supercross. I haven’t really thought about the Nationals too much, but I definitely think I will be comfortable out there ready to go from the get-go.
A: You have a great history in world motocross and GP before making your way to America. Tell us a little about your background there.
Ben: I basically raced in New Zealand till I was sixteen. Then I went overseas to Europe and raced the 125 Class for three years and then the 450 Class for a year. I was 33rd my first year and then I was 6th. Then I had a year out, and the following year I came back to win the World MX Title (MX2). Then I was 3rd in the 250 Class in 2005 before I came to America.
A: How was that transition coming from another country to race in America?
Ben: The transition coming from New Zealand to Europe was huge. Coming from Europe to America was only different more in the ways of riding. The lifestyle here is more like New Zealand, so that is why I wanted to be here in the first place. The specific racing style in supercross is the biggest difference really. It’s very agressive.
A: How is your training going with Aldon?
Ben: Obviously Aldon has worked with Ricky Carmichael, so he’s got some great trophies in his cabinet in working with RC. I was lucky really; I came around at the right time when Ricky was looking at semi-retiring and Aldon still wanting to carry on with motocross. so it worked out perfectly.
I am just getting to see the fruits of my labor now. I’ve worked with him for over a year, but I wasn’t able to do much racing. Physically I am becoming stronger, and mentally also … my whole package is now becoming better by working with him.
A: You have been with your mechanic Craig for quite some time now, sounds like you two are a good team?
Ben: Yeah, Craig’s been my mechanic for about 5 years now, basically since I started racing professionally, so it’s awesome. It is one thing that I don’t have to worry about because I know he knows the way I want things. We go to the starting gate with me just having to concentrate on what I am doing and not have to worry about the bike, so it’s perfect.
A: Alright then, what are you doing when you are not at a race, what’s do you like to do in your spare time?
Ben: I haven’t really had much spare time. I am very busy training since I moved to America. It’s been full-on ever since working with Aldon and my training regimen. It’s a lot more intense now, a lot more training as well. When I do get some time, I like to go out on the lake and relax.
A: As far as your family, are they out here at the races or are they back home in New Zealand?
Ben: My girlfriend from New Zealand lives with me, and a friend from Belgium that works on my practice bike in Florida lives with me, but everyone else is back home. That’s the biggest thing I miss.
A: You are on a great team, and it sounds like everything else is going well?
Ben: Yeah, it’s going really well, with the Monster Energy Pro-Circuit Kawasaki team, Parts Unlimited, and all those people put there heart and soul into it. Especially those guys on the team and their dedication – it goes a long ways and it makes me more dedicated to put my best effort into it.
A: You’ve got a great gig Ben, best of luck in the future!
Ben: Thank you!
Note: Thanks to Ben Townley, Mitch Payton, and Craig Behl. (We’ll have an interview with Craig – Ben’s race tech, very soon too.)