Ben Townley will ride again and he is entered for the Honda New Zealand Woodville Motocross Grand Prix.
The 29-year-old former New Zealand and world motocross champion and United States supercross champion from Taupo hung up his helmet as he retired from professional fulltime racing in March last year, trading helmet and boots for clipboard and stopwatch as he became manager of The Honda Shop Racing Team.
But Townley loves riding and finds it hard to stay off motorcycles and has made a couple of notable appearances in the months that followed his retirement, winning the big annual Honda Tarawera 100 off-road endurance race in July and then winning at the New Zealand TT Championships near Kuratau later that same month.
His latest "occasional ride" will be to contest the Honda New Zealand Motocross Grand Prix at Woodville at the end of this month (January 25-26), although not to defend his 2013 Woodville GP crown as a competitor in the main motocross class, but instead as a "rookie" entrant in the event’s River Race feature, bikes splashing through the churning water a real crowd favourite.
He will ride a "Ben Townley Special Edition Honda CRF450X" enduro bike - a motorcycle that is now available nationwide at Honda dealers - to take on some of the country’s most talented cross-country and enduro exponents, including Kiwi international Paul Whibley, from Pahiatua, a two-time former American cross-country champion.
"It’s just another box I want to tick," said Townley. "Everybody knows about this river race and I’ve often watched it, and laughed, from the sidelines. Now I’m going to take the plunge myself, if you’ll excuse the pun.
"Fortunately, it’s a short race, so my lack of race fitness shouldn’t be too much of a problem. The CRF450X bike is great for this race. It’s well-equipped for off-road competition like this and very well water-proofed ... I’ll just have to get used to getting my feet wet.
"This is a Honda-sponsored event and a major one on the calendar and it would be nice for me to try something different here and maybe win another category at Woodville. Paul Whibley seems to be the king of this river race and I’ll be gunning to take the title off him."
Townley will also have other duties over that Woodville event weekend, managing The Honda Shop Racing Team, with MX1 rider Cody Cooper and MX2 rider John Phillips among the favourites to claim the main Woodville GP Invitation Feature Race trophy that Townley himself won for the second consecutive time last season.
By Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
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