Ben Townley blog
Team Suzuki Press Office – March 24.
Suzuki World MXGP rider Ben Townley reflects on the opening part of his 2016 comeback season racing the Factory RM-Z450, and under the team leadership of new General Manager and 10-times World MX Champion, Stefan Everts.
Here is a little recap on my last three weeks or so since we returned home from Thailand: I flew straight to Gaerne boots in Italy to visit the factory and meet the family that is Gaerne. I had a great visit with them and it was incredible to go behind the scenes and watch the process of building a motocross boot; I was blown away actually to be honest!
They also treated me to some beautiful Italian cuisine in the hills above the village where the factory is based, and in typical Italian fashion it was quite an occasion with great food, coffee and wine. When we left for the airport after lunch I couldn’t help but think how strange I was feeling… I’d eaten a huge meal, had a glass of wine and then a coffee to finish, I kind of felt bloated, a little tipsy and charged up all in one!
I jetted back to Belgium where I was confronted with blizzard-like conditions, a world away from the heat and humidity that we had just spent the last 12 or so days in. It was now time to fit the Pirelli 410 scoop tyre and start roosting some sand. I’d had a couple of days in the sand in late January to refresh my mind, but I can now say three weeks on from Round 2 and a few hours away from Round 4 at Valkenswaard, I’m glad we had this time to prepare. I was quite handy in the sand when I raced the World Championship 10 or so years ago, I spent countless hours at sand tracks in the Belgium and Holland region doing thousands of laps, but I’d only remembered the good parts from those years…
The first couple of days was a very testing time for me, the tracks were very wet, which meant the tracks developed huge deep ruts and holes, but the sand was also very slippery at the same time; which made selecting lines extremely difficult. I’m a rider who really likes to be sure about my line choice, so slipping and sliding and grovelling into wherever the bike ended up was quite overwhelming for the first couple of days. Nevertheless, what they say doesn’t break you only makes you stronger, well three weeks on I have made some huge gains personally with my riding and also with the motorcycle set for riding in the sand which is a big relief.
I get a lot of questions on how it’s going with Stefan as a boss and mentor. From the outset when we shook hands on this deal we formulated a plan to really work on how I could be a better rider this time around, I was very open that I wasn’t going to change completely, but that I would really let my wall down and try to work on the certain areas that he believed needed a lot of attention. So far it has been working great, I was disappointed that I made the mistake in Thailand, which is an area that we have highlighted, so still progress to be made in some areas. But overall I have no pressure whatsoever and I’m able to go out and ride my motorcycle and keep improving day-by-day on the things that we have talked about.
After Valkenswaard, I will be returning to New Zealand to see my family, I haven’t seen them in a few weeks now and I’m missing them a ton, so it will be nice to spend some time with them before Argentina. I’ve got three little kids who are all very busy little people, so I’m looking forward to hanging out with them and having some time at home. It hopefully be only a few more weeks before they’ll be jetting to Europe to join me and spend the summer here coming to the races with me. I’m really looking forward to having them at the races. When we are all together it’s quite a bit of chaos, but it’s how I know life now!
On a sadder note, the Brussels airport attacks are very close to this sport; I’ve walked through that exact spot hundreds of times where the bomb went off when I was commuting to and from races, so there are some very surreal thoughts with a lot of people in the sport at the moment.
Valkenswaard is a few hours away, I love the track and the atmosphere that comes with that venue, so I’m really looking forward to my first GP in Europe this year.
Might see ‘ya there! If not, keep it on ‘2 Wheels’ and have some fun wherever you are riding this weekend!