Tuesday Conversation

July 24, 2007 2:23pm

Monster Energy/Pro Circuit teammates Ben Townley and Ryan Villopoto are locked in a dead heat for control of AMA Toyota Motocross Lites. The two seem to have no trouble checking out, and the motos become a contest of who will make the least mistakes. Townley fell once at Lakewood, and Villopoto fell twice, and that gave Townley the second moto win.
     It was a hot and brutal day at high elevation, and the Pro Circuit bikes were eating the others up. Each of the four Pro Circuit bikes had the lead at least once in one of the motos! Ben took a few minutes after the press conference to go back over the day.

Racer X: Ben, how did you deal with this heat and elevation today?
Ben Townley: It was good. It’s like I said before, everyone is in the same boat.  I didn’t think that I was going to struggle. I knew that it would be tough, but I knew it would be tough for everyone. I didn’t approach it any differently than any other race.

After two days worth of practice here, when you went for your motos, did you feel you were ready going in?
I didn’t think about that. I know what I did think about—and it would have been a screw-up if I hadn’t thought about it on the gate—was that you have to start in first gear this weekend. I actually thought everyone was joking with me. Saturday morning Ivan came into the truck and said “You know you have to start in first gear here?” and I was like “No way!”  I went out there in practice and made sure I got that sorted. When the 30-second board comes up, you have to be really focused on that because you can’t kick up instead of down when it goes sideways. That was the only thing I was thinking about on the starting line – Don’t put it in second gear!

What happened to you and Ryan on the start in moto one?
I had terrible jumps today for some reason. My bike pulled really well up the hill. I managed to put my elbows down and squeeze in between people. I came out like 5th in the first one. I guess Ryan was behind me—I thought he was ahead of me. Then all of a sudden, we came up on something and I went wide and he went across. He came up the inside of me. I railed a berm and he took it, then two turns later I got him back. He came down the outside on the hill after the Red Bull there. We were going at it.

Did you think, Hey we are teammates, cool it!?
No. (It’s okay ) as long as neither one of us goes down.

Do you remember any of your pit boards?
Just my lap times. I always like to have my lap times on there, and the distance from the next guy. I just focused on doing my own race, especially when coming from behind. The same thing in the second moto: After Ryan had gone down I focused on that. I just did my own deal.
     It is different when you are battling with someone that close. Then you are thinking where do you make you moves, where are you weak and where you're strong…

Do you feel that your best advantage is your second motos and can you plan for that?
I don’t know. There was a lot of water down in the first moto when we first came out, so I was really cautious in the beginning to not over ride it. Ryan was trying to pass me so I was thinking, Should I push or not? and then I made that mistake. So I don’t know. Second motos are a definitely strength of mine, yeah. But I think if I can get out cleaner in the beginning of the first race it will be a different story.

Did you see what happened to Ryan, the turn he fell twice on?
Yeah, I was right on his back wheel. When we came down that long downhill, I was on the outside of him. We were still really close together at that stage and he went down on the inside. I took a peek and he was still in second. Then next lap he was in third and I couldn’t work that out – so yeah, I just rode my own race after that.

At the podium you had mom and dad, grandma and grandpa, and your aunt, and your girlfriend. Does it change much when so many are here with you?
Not at all. It’s great to have them here, no doubt about it. That is the hardest thing for me, is living away from home, without family. It seems to get harder as we go on. When I was 16, I couldn’t wait to get out. That was seven years ago.

After seven nationals, supercross and all, you have  been here a while, do you feel like an American now?
No, not at all. I’m just trying to be Ben Townley!