Ben Townley’s return to the top flight was either going to end with more glory for the first ever MX2 World Champion or more pain for the talented but luckless New Zealander.
After the Team Suzuki World MXGP rider’s crash while testing in early July the 30-year-old was forced to the sidelines for the rest of the Grand Prix campaign with intestinal problems and his factory RM-Z450 was taken by 18-year-old rookie Arminas Jasikonis with the Lithuanian close to keeping the ride for 2017.
For Townley, who impressed with a race result of second place at the 2015 Motocross of Nations for his country and the ride sparked his comeback to the highest level, his second stint as a Grand Prix rider and as a full-time Pro is now over.
“This is the end in terms of high-end international racing,” he said. “I stopped professionally at one point and kept racing in New Zealand and then got the desire to do it professionally again and worked very hard. People saw the results of that last September [at Ernee]. I got this opportunity and that’s what I wanted. I prepared in the best way and put my best foot forward to achieve some goals that I did not achieve before. I wanted to be with the right team, structure and bike – I had that – but I wasn’t able to do what I aimed for.”
“Unfortunately, I was forced out of the season with injury and that will be it for me and racing,” he added. “I’m glad to have had this opportunity and I took it with both hands. I can now draw a line under it and say I’ve had a crack at it.”
Townley, a father of three and a family back in New Zealand will now return home to consider his next move. The ex-supercross Lites Champion and AMA250 MX and Nations race winner briefly hit the heights of former glories at round two before illness struck. “It was in Thailand,” when he was asked to reflect on a moment of his Suzuki tenure where he hit decent form. “After that,I was never able to get myself consistently in that same position with starts.”