by Geoff Meyer /

Ben Townley was a hugely popular figure in the Grand Prix paddock when he raced the World Motocross MX2 and MX1 championships. Known for his friendly smile and good work ethic, the New Zealander carved his own piece of history by winning the World MX2 title in 2004 and then battling the likes of Stefan Everts, Joel Smets and Mickael Pichon in the 2005 MX1 title. His swansong to Europe was his amazing challenge to the mighty Ricky Carmichael at the 2005 Motocross of Nations.


Since that day in the sun at the Ernee circuit in France, Townley has had moments of brilliance, and moments of despair. Injury has probably cost him the best part of his career, although like the fighter he is, he was still able to win an AMA Supercross title (Lites 250 class) and battle Ryan Villopoto for an AMA Lites (MX2) motocross championship.


We caught up with Ben a week or so ago and did this interview with him. He talked about his injuries, his good friend Josh Coppins, and about the situation of the Grand Prix scene. This is a two part interview and here is part one.

Ben Townley interview - Part I - Photo 1 of 1

Q: Ben, good to see you again. Tell me about this injury and what the problem is?


Townley: Just a couple of weeks ago, I started riding again… things were going pretty well, and I turned up my whole program, aiming at coming back for the Daytona Supercross. I was riding four days a week and doing my gym and training, but my shoulder just wasn’t performing like I wanted. I had a lot of restriction with it, as far as the gym and riding, or even every day things. I was struggling with stretching and stuff. It was only my shoulder, nothing else.

Q: But it has been a number of injuries for you, hasn’t it?


Townley: From the Motocross of Nations at Budds Creek, I had problems with my shoulder, then my ankle, and I came back riding after that. But I still had problems with my shoulder, and that is why I had operations on my shoulder. I also had a wrist problem on the same side as the shoulder injury. That was just a mess really. The truth of the whole thing is, I took time off after the first two nationals in 2008 – I was struggling with my wrist and shoulder. I took the time off to rest my shoulder, but I am still getting an opinion on what the future holds for it.

Q: You showed your speed is as good as Ryan Villopoto, but due to injuries you haven’t posted the same results as him. Does it bother you sometimes when you see how he is riding and the results he is getting?


Townley: For sure it is difficult. That year I ran with Ryan (Villopoto) was my best year probably, and one of the reasons I am not riding now. I know what I am capable of. If I can’t prepare to do it in training, then I can’t do it at the race either.

Q: When are we likely to see you back racing?


Townley: I have no idea when I will be back, … I am leaving it open right now. I don’t want to set a time and date on it, because with sponsors I had set a time and a date on it before, and I wasn’t able to meet those dates. I don’t want to lead them on and I don’t want to put pressure on myself. I am getting advice at the moment, obviously the main part of this is the operation. I want to get some more advice on that.

Q: How much time have you had on the bike since you got injured?


Townley: Since the Motocross of Nations in Budds Creek towards the end of 2007, in those last 17 months I have probably ridden four months.

Q: Any regrets about taking the step to America?


Townley: I don’t have any regrets, … no, no regrets. I don’t have any regrets at all.

Q: Will you spend some time back home in New Zealand?


Townley: I will probably go back to New Zealand, obviously I have obligations to my sponsors as well. I need to get a new plan, get myself as healthy as you are, or close. I need to get to a point where I just feel normal. My whole program since the injury to my shoulder has been all over the place with training and gym work and everything.

Q: You are always open to the press and your fans. How has the response been from the media and supporters?


Townley: People are just disappointed I guess. Everyone has always been positive and I have always tried to have a good relationship with the fans or people like yourself (the press).

Q: Is there a chance you won’t be coming back at all?


Townley: I haven’t looked at that. In my mind I will come back, so I haven’t thought about that. If I take the right steps and do everything I should, then in my mind I will be back.


Q: Seeing Josh Coppin’s struggles last year, did you talk to him much about it?


Townley: I tried to talk with him, but it is hard, everyone wants to have their say and stuff and everyone wants to give him advice. At the end of the day you want to do what you think  is best for yourself. I just want him to do well, he has been such a great friend for so long, and he helped me out so much. The reason I came to Mantova, Italy for this race was to support him, and I want to come back to Europe later in the year also.

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