Ben Townley: 2007 AMA SX Lites East Champion

PICKERINGTON, Ohio (April 23, 2007) – Ben Townley earned a second-place finish Saturday night in the AMA Supercross Lites East final at Ford Field in Detroit. That was good enough to give the New Zealand native the points he needed to move from second to first in the final standings and earn him the 2007 AMA Supercross Lites East Championship.

Townley’s title gave Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki a sweep of both East and West Lites titles. Ryan Villopoto wrapped up the Lites West Series in February. It marked the first American title for Townley, a 22-year-old Supercross rookie who was MX2 World Champion in 2004.

“This is a dream come true,” Townley said. “My family came in from New Zealand and it’s really special. “We started off in a bit of a hole this year, but my team never gave up hope. They worked so hard to give me the best bike out there and it’s so gratifying to give them the number one plate. To win this championship in my first season is amazing.”

In Detroit Townley completed one of the biggest comebacks in AMA Supercross Lites history. His bike suffered a mechanical failure in the first round in Atlanta in February while leading the race. Townley charged back from a 25-point deficit and scored wins at St. Louis, Daytona Beach and Dallas to rally back into championship contention. His title hopes were helped in the final round when series leader Ryan Morais stalled his Boost Mobile Yamaha on the first lap and was only able to work his way back to fifth.

In the end it was Townley by three points over Morais in the final Lites East standings. Darcy Lange finished third in the series. Makita Suzuki’s Ryan Dungey won in Detroit. His three wins matched Townley’s tally, but a couple of bad luck rounds meant Dungey would finish fifth in the final standings.

Townley moved to America and settled in Florida to live near Ricky Carmichael's training facility in Havana. He trains with Carmichael, the sport’s winningest rider, and made a strong comeback this year after suffering a knee injury practicing for the 2006 AMA season and missing much of the year.

Townley’s victory brings the AMA Supercross Lites East championship back to the Kawasaki camp. James Stewart won the series on a Kawasaki in 2004, and Grant Langston in 2005. Honda won the title last year with Davi Millsaps. It marks the seventh Supercross Lites East title (formerly 125) for Kawasaki.

Townley becomes one of the pre-race favorites for the upcoming Dave Coombs Memorial  East/West Supercross Shootout in Las Vegas on May 5. He’s also considered one of the pre-season favorites in the Motocross Lites division of the AMA Toyota Motocross Championship presented by FMF that kicks off on May 20 at the Hangtown Classic near Sacramento.