Former World Champion Ben Townley has made the aim of his return to Grand Prix as a works Suzuki World MXGP rider clear from the beginning: a shot at completing his CV with the premier class title.
Still only 30 years old (the same age as Tony Cairoli and Kevin Strijbos) the very first MX2 champion in 2004 and AMA 250 Supercross East Coast number one is set to land in Europe to begin work testing in the coming weeks – at the latest, in early January.
Suzuki revealed news of Townley’s one year deal this week (while a spokesman for the Lommel squad stated that Steven Frossard’s recovery from a vertebra compression is being carefully monitored for a return to racing at some stage in 2016) and the New Zealander proved his credentials at the Motocross of Nations at Ernee in France at the end of September by finishing second to Romain Febvre in the third and final moto.
The Nations was only his second high profile race since coming out of retirement. Townley walked away from Grand Prix in 2012 after a concussion derailed his MXGP term with CLS Kawasaki. He has since coached riders back in his native country as well as the works HRC team in Japan.
“I had a personal goal at Ernee and had a clear aim of seeing if I was still in striking distance of the main guys and I think I achieved that,” Townley commented exclusively. “It made me think I have a crack of trying for the world championship next year. I’m not here just to earn a paycheck and if I see after one year then it’s not possible to get that title then I’m outta here!”
The father of three has considerable experience on his side and in his union with Suzuki will be representing one of the best teams in MXGP that has been in title contention with three riders for over a decade.
He has already stated that the desire to win again has motivated his decision to compete once more and relocate to the other side of the world; a move he made initially when 15 years old in 2001.
The biggest question for many concerning Townley’s credentials will be his ability to stay healthy and injury-free throughout a gruelling 2016 calendar that – to-date – involves 19 Grand Prix, 38 motos and 57 race starts with the qualification heats included.