Monday Conversation: Ben Townley

July 16, 2007 7:45am
New Zealand import Ben Townley evened up the Lites championship points at Unadilla, with a 1-3 score, while his teammate and rival Ryan Villopoto got one DNF and a moto win. Now, each has 263 championship points at the halfway mark of the 2007 AMA Toyota Motocross Championships presented by FMF. 
     Townley knows a championship chase means being able to do well every time in a variety of tracks—even tracks he doesn’t like. This seems to be the summer of speaking out, and Ben offered his feedback at the post-race press conference, and we asked for some clarification in this Monday Conversation.

Racer X
: Ben, let’s go back through the first moto first.
Ben Townley: Well, Ryan Dungey got a killer start. I couldn’t believe it. I was in second and couldn’t get him. They had put a lot of water on the track between the first moto.

(Townley sees David Pingree in the press conference and makes a comment about AMA Supermoto Lites.)

I think Pingree needs to stop running #101! Can we all agree on that?
I tried passing Ryan but there were a couple of wet spots and I didn’t want to overdo it. I finally caught him in the second lap and just put my laps down. I was riding a little bit conservative probably, just because it was quite wet. I got Ryan, and I was going decent and saw that he wasn’t up there after a few laps. I just rode the race out and did what I needed to do, and saved some energy for the second moto.

Did you know Villopoto had spun around on the first lap and lost a lot of time?
No, I didn’t. I was just focused on Ryan Dungey.  It wasn’t until the 5th or 6th lap that I found out Ryan Villopoto wasn’t out there.

What happens between motos? What are you doing?
I didn’t use up too much energy in the first one, I just did what I needed to do like I said. I went through it in my mind and thought it was going to be slippery due to the rain. When I went out for the sighting lap it wasn’t too bad so I was ready to go, really.

We are halfway through the series, so there are six tracks to go, how much do you know about them?
Just Glen Helen I know, that’s about it. So five I don’t know. One of them is going to be new for all of us. But I don’t really think it makes a difference. If you are a good rider and you want to win championships, you have to be able to adapt to tracks.

I want to step through the track issue a little bit and make sure we understand your opinion on things. As far as this track, Kevin said it took a lot of throttle control and seemed to like it okay. Ferry said the new dirt sections had rock in them.
For me, that is not the issue. We are looking at line selection and overall preparation before we even get out there. That’s my biggest deal. Yesterday in practice, I felt like we were riding on ice. The dirt would push to the outside and then it would be really shiny on the inside, with no ruts in the turns. The fast sections didn’t develop any ruts. I don’t know… I’m not understating that it’s hard, (that) it’s difficult to get it right. Like I said, this is a professional sport these days. They want us to be professional in the way we conduct ourselves and act, then there are things we should demand, or expect at least the same out of the track, you know?

Is it the thing that we hear positive comments about concerning RedBud, bring in dirt and disk it deep? As far as Unadilla, the tradition has been it's grass until race weekend and you get what digs up.
I think the issue is not whether it’s grass or whatever; it’s getting more moisture into it so it develops lines. It’s a fine line, I guess. I am just trying to make the sport better, and more than anything more enjoyable for the riders.

In terms of tracks, do you think like Ricky?  Do you like what he likes?
I am going to say what I think whether Ricky likes it or not. I am going to give my own opinion. I am not going to sit here and say what he says. I would bet a couple dollars that if he were here today, he would be very opinionated. Yesterday even more so.
What about in more general terms? Is that to say you don’t like things that are naturally slippery and take a lot of throttle control?
Not to say that, no. Throttle control is part of racing. It’s more about creating lines on the track, you know? It becomes an issue when you catch lapped riders, or when you catch a decent rider, like I caught Dungey, to find somewhere to make it happen. I am a professional and I am supposed to make it happen, but they don’t make it easy on you!

When can we start pressing you for details on your next year’s racing?
I don’t know, in 2008 I guess!