Former World Champion Ben Townley is being cautious about his return to full-time Grand Prix racing this weekend and insists that he harbours no illusions of grandeur from the first round of 18 in the 2016 at Losail, Qatar. “None at all, zero expectations,” he says.
“The first five rounds will be about going out to race, focussing on the starts, getting myself into a decent position and letting the race come to me,” he adds. “We’ve all seen there is no issue with my speed but back-to-back weekends and the travel schedule…I haven’t done that in a number of years. So we’ll see where I end up in Qatar and go from there.”
The 30 year old – the same age as Team Suzuki World MXGP team-mate Kevin Strijbos – has been working on recovery from a twisted left knee, a problem picked up in a racing incident with Jeffrey Herlings at the Valence International almost two weeks ago.
Despite the small setback the New Zealander (and very first MX2 World Champion back in 2004) insists he is ready to go. “It is nothing major fortunately and hopefully it won’t set me back much. It was just a twist so I’ve had some swelling and a bit of pain.”
Townley retired from international racing in 2012 but participated in the 2015 U.S. Grand Prix at Glen Helen in preparation for what-would-be an impressive run at the Motocross of Nations in France a week later. Qatar marks his first high profile meeting with Suzuki and the works RM-Z450.