Photo by: Suzuki Press Office
Ben Townley to be back
A busy but invigorating period of transition has marked the autumn and winter phases of 2015 for Team Suzuki World MXGP but with former multi world champion Stefan Everts now lending his influence and control over the Lommel-based works team along with Sylvain Geboers, the crew is ready to press ahead with an intense schedule of groundwork.
Late December the factory unit confirmed that the 2016 Hawkstone Park International in the UK will represent the first competitive outing of the new year and with Everts guiding the progress and preparation of Kevin Strijbos and Ben Townley (Team Suzuki World MXGP with the RM-Z450) plus Jeremy Seewer (Team Suzuki World MX2) through tests and up to the moment when the gate drops in the dark Shropshire sand.
The meeting on February 7th will be a memorable one in several senses. For Everts it marks the initial major ‘adrenaline rush’ in yellow and since coming back to the brand as Owner/ General Manager where he gained the first of his 10 titles in 1991. For Strijbos it will be the opening chapter in a campaign where he will be keen to erase a frustrating and injury-plagued 2015 and where he will also be hoping to repeat his overall victory from 12 months previously against an expected field of MXGP peers looking to blow off the winter ‘cobwebs’. For Townley it will be a useful competitive debut outing on the RM-Z450 and since making a surprise comeback from retirement in 2013. The 30-year-old New Zealander will be able to gauge his off-season work only three weeks before the opening Grand Prix of 18 in the 2016 MXGP trail at Losail in Qatar.
Brian Hsu has been counted out of action due to a left wrist injury but Bas Vaessen – Suzuki’s EMX250 European Championship hopeful – will line-up on the RM-Z250 alongside Seewer.
First both squads will attempt to fulfil further testing schedules during January with Everts, Strijbos, Seewer and Vaessen set for Spain in the opening week of the year for a fortnight of riding and work followed by further sessions in Belgium and possibly France. Townley is scheduled to land in Europe in mid-January and will immediately join the group.
Aside from the Hawkstone appointment Team Suzuki World MXGP is also planning to bolster the entry list of the Valence International in central France one week after the trip to the UK.
The Grand Prix of Qatar at Losail will take place on February 27th.