Motocross: Crash slows Townley's title bid

By Colin Smith

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Ben Townley rode to second place in the second moto of the Thailand MXGP round on Sunday. Photo/Ray Archer/Suzuki Racing
Ben Townley rode to second place in the second moto of the Thailand MXGP round on Sunday. Photo/Ray Archer/Suzuki Racing

Tauranga's Ben Townley showed front-running pace during round two of the World Motocross Championship in Thailand on Sunday.

Townley won Saturday's MXGP qualifying race to earn first-gate pick for the Sunday races but encountered some mixed fortunes.

He was part of a four-rider battle for the lead in the opening race when he had a spill from his Suzuki RM-Z450 and had to retire with a broken radiator.

In the end I gave everything I had and I had to talk myself through to the end.
Ben Townley

In race two Townley rode to second place behind Frenchman - and defending world champ - Romain Febvre (Yamaha) and the Kiwi has moved up to 10th in the championship standings with two of the 18 rounds completed.

The new layout in Suphan Buri meant the third circuit for the Thai MXGP in three years and a hard-pack, churned and dusty course was a demanding challenge for the Grand Prix elite.

The deep ruts combined with the temperatures touching 40C - more than double what riders faced in Qatar the previous weekend - set the scene for one of the toughest fixtures of the year.

With a strong start, Townley was straight into fourth place chasing Italian Tony Cairoli, Febvre and Qatar winner Tim Gajser (Slovenia), with the quartet rarely separated by more than three seconds for the first part of the race.

The long, hard ruts provided a tricky technical test while other hard-pack areas of the surface were slippery. Townley would ultimately be caught out on lap nine, slipping off his Suzuki and he had to cruise back to the pit lane to retire with a broken radiator.

"I made a mistake that caught me out of the blue," said Townley.

"It was on the last roller and I was in the wrong gear. I was caught out by how slick it was and got ejected. I was up ready to salvage something but the radiator was damaged and I was lucky to make it back to the pits."

In the second moto Townley grabbed second from British rider Shaun Simpson in the early laps and chased Febvre to the end of the 30-minute plus two laps moto.

"In the second moto obviously the result was much better but it was tough," said Townley.

"Someone jumped the gate beside me so I was late off the line. I started in sixth and worked my way up - I think I had a bit more spark than the other boys.

"In the end I gave everything I had and I had to talk myself through to the end.

"Overall I'm not concerned about the podium but the 18 points that I threw away."

Townley is now 10th in the MXGP standings following two 11th placings in Qatar and his second place in Thailand.

"We are still working on the bike quite a lot and have made progress every session since starting in Qatar, but there is still work to do on the engine and suspension especially."

The Grand Prix of Europe, raced in the shallow and bumpy sand of Valkenswaard in the Netherlands across Easter weekend, is next.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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