Ben's Valence Report:

Posted: Tue 24 Feb 2004

This report is from Ben Townley`s PR man, Glen Dempsey.

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Townley Debuts in French Mud:

After weeks of testing, the KTM 250cc four stroke was unveiled for its first race of 2004 at the magnificently prepared circuit of Valence. New Zealand motocross star, Ben Townley had his work cut out for him as the open class format saw the young teenage sensation battling against the more powerful bikes of the likes of Everts, Gundersen, Mellotte, Demaria not to mention a highly competitive field of French and international riders.

Overnight rain which continued right through the day dampened all hopes of ‘clean racing’ but certainly did not dampen the spirit of the three and a half thousand strong partisan crowd. BT’s first two heats were ridden with technical hiccups, sidelining man and machine however the third and final heat would cure any inhibitions.

As the pack of soiled riders descended down a steep hill directly after the first turn, Kenneth Gundersen’s factory KTM 450 was about the only bike whose number boards were decipherable as he lead the gaggle of riders. BT had miraculously worked his way through the pack into the top five by lap one. Only three laps into the race he had closed down and passed fellow factory KTM riders Steve Ramon and Yves Demaria to take second place. Townley and Gundersen matched each other lap for lap and to the delight of the KTM crew, both the 450cc and 250cc crossed the finish line in first and second respectively.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve ridden a mud race” grinned Townley’s mud-caked face. “The main objective was to have fun and stay on the bike, which I achieved. I feel really confident and felt quite relaxed today” said the teenager.

Next week will see BT pushing the KTM 250cc four stroke to it\'s limits in the deep sand at a Belgium international to be run at the former grand prix circuit of Lommel.