Catching Up With Ben Townley

CATCHING UP WITH BEN TOWNLEY
We’ve been seeing Team Red Bull Honda’s Ben Townley all over SoCal recently, whether it’s at our local tracks or in the pits at Supercross. Here’s what our favorite New Zealander had to say.

We spotted you riding out at Perris Raceway recently, so we’re obviously curious about when you’ll return to Supercross…

Hopefully, I’ll return at the end of February. That’s the plan right now. I rode out at the Honda track the morning before Anaheim 1 and that was the first time I’ve ridden Supercross on the new bike. While everybody was out here I decided to go out to the Honda track since nobody would be around. It was also the first time I’ve ridden a 450 on a Supercross track, so I’m just getting back into the swing of things.

How are you feeling? Are you all healed up?

I stopped racing after Hangtown because of my wrist and my shoulder, which were both on my right side and they were getting weaker and weaker. I’ve since had both my wrist and shoulder operated on and everything is healthy again. It has taken longer than expected to heal up, and that’s why I’m not racing. I only started riding a bike four weeks ago, and I’ve been off the bike for seven months. I just can’t show up after seven months off the bike and start racing.

Seven months is a long time. Were you going stir crazy wanting to ride again?

I was! The whole thing with my wrist is what prolonged everything. It didn’t heal up as expected, and we got some other opinions and it turns out I had something else wrong with it, too. I got to a point where I wasn’t even going to race again if my wrist wasn’t going to be normal. Thankfully, though, everything has come around, and I have a great outlook on everything because I’m healthy. It hasn’t been since the MXoN at Budd’s Creek that I’ve been healthy. I went from my shoulder deal to my ankle and then I had a shoulder and wrist deal. It’s been a mess.

What are your impressions of the 2009 CRF450R?

It’s awesome! I love it! It’s just more compact and it suits me a lot. It’s slim around the seat and tank. The bike turns well and the power delivery is awesome… Actually, until last week, I had yet to ride one of our race bikes with suspension and motor. I only had my stock bike with some handlebars at home. I’ve been loving the new bike. My only problem was with the forks because they were a bit too soft. Other than that I love the new bike! I think the fuel injection is a great thing on the new Honda’s.

When you do return to Supercross, what is your strategy going to be?

I want to come back strong, and I’d like to think that I could hover around the top five, but I don’t know. I haven’t raced a 450 in Supercross yet. To be honest, the first day of SX was a handful–I was quite surprised. On a 250F you’re wide open to make everything perfect. Now, however, you have to back off to make things perfect; it’s a whole different animal. It’s cool to be back on the track, but it’s going to take some time. I spent seven months off the bike and just riding motocross is a challenge in itself.