Monday, July 15

TOWNLEY WINS TARAWERA 100

It is another major event that has been ticked off the 'To do' list for Tauranga's Ben Townley, the former World MX2 champion winning this year's Tarawera 100 on debut on Saturday from Adrian Smith (picture right) and Brad Groombridge (left)



Townley had never been able to contest the big annual Honda-backed Tarawera 100 cross-country race in the past because international commitments had always clashed with the running of the iconic sports even near Kawerau.
But since bowing out of the international scene earlier this season, the 28-year-old Honda star was suddenly free to turn his attentions to the great Kiwi race and what a way to make his debut ... winning the 160-kilometre marathon by nearly five minutes from three-time and current national cross-country champion Adrian Smith, of Mokau.
Townley followed Smith (Blackwood BikesportNZ.com Yamaha YZ250) out of turn one but he soon had the lead and was quickly into his work, gradually edging further ahead during each of his four 40-kilometre laps.

"I know Adrian is fit and fast and I didn't want him anywhere near me on the last lap, so I pushed hard to create a gap on him," said Townley (Carlton Dry Honda CRF450).

It could so easily have been a Honda 1-2, however, when Tauranga's Peter Broxholme (Botany Honda CRF450X) pushed through to second place, but he was always under pressure from Smith and gambled on a “splash and dash” re-fuel to stay ahead of Smith as he started his last lap, but it wasn't enough and he ran out of gas within sight of the finish, eventually having to settle for ninth place overall.

“I had come to this event when I was a kid and always wanted to race it,” said Townley. “This was my first chance.

“I loved it. The race was awesome. It lived up to all my expectations.

“I didn't have any problems and didn't drop the bike once. I just rode smooth and consistent. The bike was exactly the same motocross bike I raced to win the Woodville motocross and at round one of the motocross nationals in Timaru. We didn't install a bigger fuel tank or change the gearing or anything.”

Third overall on Saturday was Taupo’s Brad Groombridge (Action Suzuki RM-Z450), who was grateful to snatch the final podium spot when four riders ahead of him all had problems near the end of the final lap.

Fourth overall and under-19 years’ class winner was Atiamuri’s Hadleigh Knight (CMR Red Bull KTM 250F), a remarkable result for the 16-year-old on debut at the event.

Townley's next focus is to tackle the annual New Zealand TT Championships near Kuratau next weekend, another event at which he'll make his debut and, quite possibly, he'll be favoured to capture another domestic trophy. 

Words & pic: Andy McGechan www.bikesportnz.com