Advancing the sport of motorcycling

Ben Townley

Born: 1984 -

Inducted into MNZ Hall of Fame: 2019

Born in 1984 Ben Townley started racing an early age . His first championship win in New Zealand was the North Island 85cc class in the 8-11 year age group in the 1993/94 championship year, he repeated that title in the 1994/95 year and before the decade was out several other titles came his way.

 Rather than hang around collecting trophies in New Zealand the sixteen year old  Townley head for Europe, securing a ride with the German PHASE Suzuki Team in 2001. It was a tough introduction for the Kiwi teenager, he left the team towards the end of the season after issues within the team. He joined forces with the respected Vangani team.

Townley’s second year on the World Championship circuit couldn’t have been more different, a top team with top team mates. Starting off 2002 with his first podium in a World Championship event with a second place at the GP of Valkenswaard in Holland, more podiums followed. But it was in Sweden where he scored his first victory.

Success continued through 2003 riding a KTM, he was now a true championship front runner after only three seasons in Europe

In 2004, as a factory KTM rider on a factory machine, he won the MX2 World Championship. Winning from future champion Antonio Cairoli and Townley’s own team mates.
Armed with latest KTM450, Ben jumped up to the MX1 Championship in 2005. The season he would win several races and was soon becoming a threat at each round. At the end of the season he would finish third to Stefan Everts and fellow Kiwi Josh Coppins.

Townley signed a deal with Mitch Payton to move to the U.S. for 2006 and ride for Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki. But before the move, he had unfinished business representing New Zealand at the Moto-x of Nations in France, where the team finished fifth. However it was Ben’s individual performance that people remember. In the third moto, he finished a close second behind no other than American Ricky Carmichael who was regarded as the fastest rider in the USA if not the world at the time.

Moving to the USA, he settled in Florida. However the success of previous years did not follow him. A serious knee injury while practicing for the East Coast Supercross Championship ruled him out for much of the season.

Returning he did win the 2007 Supercross Lites East Championship.

In 2008 he signed for American Honda to contest the US Supercross and Moto-cross Championship, but again suffered a season ending injury while training that put him out of the season.

While he continued to compete with some success, he was also dogged by injury and after five seasons where he failed to complete a full season in 2013 announced his retirement from full time racing.

But retirement was abandoned in 2015. He once again was selected to ride for the New Zealand Team at the MX of Nations, again in France, his individual performance once again stood out (just like 10 years previous), a 6th and 2nd place saw an opening to ride in the factory Suzuki team in 2016. Once again it was not to be,  a serious injury ruled him out in June, suffering internal injuries, the 2004 World Champion was out. This time for the last time.

There is no doubt that Ben Townley is one of the fastest riders to come out of New Zealand following the likes of Darryll and Shayne King, Darryl Atkins and Josh Coppins. The many wins and success show that, however without the injuries and just bad luck he may have even had more wins on the world stage.
These days he has business interests, and family that keep him busy. In 2019 Ben was employed as Brand Ambassador for Yamaha in New Zealand. By his side his two sons, Levi and Jagger.

Ben Townley World Championships Highlights:

13 World Grand Prix Victories

1st MX2 World Championship

3rd MX1 World Championship