Ben Townley has announced that he's taking a leave of absence from racing in the hopes that he can rebuild his physical fitness and confidence for a return to racing. Townley opted out of last week's Portuguese Grand Prix.
"I want to let everyone know what is happening right now and the situation that I am facing," Townley said in a team release issued today. "This past winter, while preparing for this season, I had two crashes that resulted in serious injuries. I was able to recover from them and return to my training and riding after a long recovery from the second one in late January. I was excited to start racing again. Let me be clear to everyone that I was realistic after so many weeks on the couch that my results would be average at best, but I was willing to accept that to start building myself up to the rider I believe I am."Since I started racing, I have had some struggles mentally. The crashes have affected me to a point where I cannot safely race at this level yet. I have made a decision that I need more time to build my confidence back up and work on rebuilding my racing. I have had amazing support from my team, Jean Jacques and Gael Luisetti, the team owners have been extremely understanding of the situation I am in and I am very grateful for that. Harry Nolte has been a huge part of my career and has believed in me a lot and I want to thank him for his support about this also. The whole team has been very understanding and helpful. For right now, I am putting plans in place to get myself back into a position where I can race to my potential again - I'm not sure of a timeline or return right now. I want to thank my sponsors and supporters for their outstanding support since I returned to Europe."
The team owners of the CLS Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki squad are disappointed, yet understanding of Townley's decision."We are very upset for Ben, because he is a great man and this decision is probably one of the hardest in his life," said Jean Jacques Luisetti. "But it was too much of a risk for him to ride in those conditions and we support Ben in his decision. For us it was an awesome experience to work with him, even if the result this year is not the expected one. But we trust Ben, and we know that he will do his best to be back, and we are ready to welcome him again as soon as he will be ready. We put so much time and energy in the Team CLS every day for this kind of experience, with this kind of person, putting the human experience before everything else."