Motocross: Champ Ben Townley retires

By Andy McGechan

It's all over for New Zealand's Ben Townley.

The only noise that could be heard for a brief time at the national motocross championships finale in Taupo on Sunday afternoon was of a spanner dropping back into its tool box.

A deafening silence fell over the venue as the circuit commentator interviewed Kiwi sports hero Townley ... the former world and New Zealand champion was announcing his sudden, shock retirement from the sport.

After a glittering 12-year international career that began in 2001 and yielded an MX2 Motocross World Championship title in 2004, a Supercross Lites East Coast title in the United States in 2007 and the national MX1 title last season, the Bay of Plenty rider stunned the large crowd at his home town track with the revelation that he was retiring from full-time racing, effective immediately.

Following the latest in a succession of injuries, which have frustrated the Honda star and caused the stop-start nature of his career in recent years, Townley decided "enough was enough".

"I've only smacked my head once previous to this latest spill, but it made me re-evaluate things.

With so many injuries, I was just sick and tired of the direction my career was taking.

"I told my Carlton Dry Honda team that I can't deliver the championships I promised them while I'm injured and, after this last fall, I realised I needed to take time off to fully recover.

"I left school when I was 16 and have been racing a long time now. It was a very hard decision to make and I have thought long and hard about it this week. I think it is the right decision," said the 28-year-old.

"Honda in New Zealand and Australia have been excellent and I'd love to continue my relationship with them. But, as to where I go from here ... I'm not going anywhere fast, to be honest.

"I want to do something completely different with my life now, with my wife and our two boys," he said.

"While I am retiring from full-time competition, I will still ride and race at selected events. One thing I have never done, which I'd like to try, is racing the Tarawera 100 [cross-country endurance race]. Perhaps I'll race that.

"Although I am retiring from full-time competition, I am not walking away from the sport. I love motocross and understand and accept that we can get injured. I am only 28 years old and I believe I have a lot I can still give the sport."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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