Ben Townley had a very successful 2007, winning the East Coast Lites SX title and nearly capturing a championship Outdoors with podium finishes at every round and 6 victories out of 12 races.But in 2008, with Ben on Factory Honda and moving into the 450 class, things never got going. Injuries kept the rider sidelined through both 2008 and 2009.Ben re-entered racing in 2010 at Hangtown on the Troy Lee / Lucas Oil / Honda team, and has been showing amazing speed on the way to grabbing two podiums. He also showed his skills at the USGP, running away with the second moto victory.I caught up to Ben at Milestone raceway while he was filming a new commercial for Lucas Oil to ask him about his season so far after 8 of 12 rounds. The first question was about the bad crash he took at the 8th round, Washougal, that at first seemed to put him out for the season with a shoulder injury.Pete Peterson: How’s the shoulder doing right now?Ben Townley: Good. It turns out there wasn’t anything wrong. I went down and I guess just the way I fell it felt really strange. It felt like I was injured but I went to the doctor and I should be good. I was told to take off a couple weeks and see where I am then, so I have the second week coming up this weekend and I’m going to start riding next week.PP: Are you going to be at Unadilla?BT: Without a doubt. If I had to race today I could race.PP: How do you feel about your results so far this season?BT: It’s 50/50. I’ve been really happy to get back out there and show the speed I have. The results haven’t really shown what I think they should have been, to be honest with you. I feel like I should have been on the podium double or more than I have been, so it’s been a little bit frustrating. It’s been due mostly to me making mistakes like Hangtown. I tipped over, I had a sure second there. Mt. Morris, the second moto I tipped over twice. Red Bud I tipped over, Colorado I tipped over… Millville the same thing, it’s been frustrating, yeah. I was really close to second in the points until I crashed at Washougal. It shows that I’m definitely back on schedule of where I want to be for sure.PP: You mention all the little mistakes. Do you have an explanation maybe why, because I don’t remember you being a fumbling rider and now it seems -BT: Yeah, weird, eh? Usually if I crash, I crash huge. [Smiles] So that’s very uncharacteristic of me to have mistakes like that. We’re trying to work it out, obviously I’m back on a 450, which I haven’t been on for a long time, so that’s new for me and also being on Dunlops is a new thing for me. I think we haven’t hit our set-up yet. We’ve been back and forth on set-up a lot throughout the season. I think it has a lot to do with two years out of racing, I’m still just finding my niche a little bit.PP: Taking results out of the equation, you said you’re really happy with your speed. Before the first race where did you think you’d be?BT: I knew I’d be where I am, without a doubt. And I think if I could be a little more comfortable, I could be even faster. So I’m really happy with the speed, but as I said before I never thought it was an issue ever, ever. I believe that you, at the age I’m at, and at least for the next five or six years, you never lose your speed when you get off a motorcycle. You lose the whole conditioning factor of strength and fitness and all that but speed-wise, I know how to ride a motorcycle.PP: You left the sport during a better financial time, what was it like coming back in at a tough time?
BT: I haven’t really even thought about it because to me, I was coming back racing whether it was like that or not. That wasn’t even a part of my decision. I wanted to come back racing whether I bought all my stuff and did it out of the back of a motorhome. I set myself a goal of being back and I was going to do it. Now, getting ready for next year, that weighs in a little more for sure for me because there are a lot of opportunities for me.PP: Would you say you’re having more fun or less fun, feeling more pressure or less pressure now after coming back from two years off?BT: It’s all the same. I never feel pressure from teams or sponsors because I put so much pressure on myself. They all know that and see how much work I put in. I felt more pressure when I was injured. I was on a team [Factory Honda] that I thought was going to be a dream set-up for me and coming off of 07 [Pro Circuit Kawasaki], that’s the fastest I’ve ever been in my career. I won a title [SX] that year and it was me or Villopoto all the way to the end [MX]. I was all set up and ready to go for the rest of my career. I thought that would be the start of the 450 thing, and [then] it ended for me here in America. Things obviously changed. Now with this team and the way I’m set up… I didn’t have many options but what’s worked out nicely with this team is that I’ve been able to come in here under the radar. They’ll supply me with everything I’ve wanted as far as the components and equipment and it’s allowed me to go out and have fun. I’m having a lot of fun. I’d say that I always enjoyed my racing, but I don’t know if Its because I’ve had two year off of racing or if I’m just really enjoying it more. Because its’ been a lot of fun this [year at the] Nationals.