Ben signed for Delkevic Kawasaki for '08 after coming oh-so close to the MX1 title at his 3 first attempt
"I discovered that the reed valve on my Suzuki had developed a hole and with my dad frantically working on the bike time was rapidly counting down before the start of the next moto. At this point I noticed that the travelling marshal also had a 125cc Suzuki so I cheekily asked him if I could borrow his bike. Reluctantly and at the last minute he agreed but it meant that I was left with a horrible water-filled rut on the inside of the startgate. Incredibly, I got the holeshot and led the race before eventually finishing third! After the race a shaken, pale-faced marshal told me he'd never seen his bike move so fast..."
After returning to ARD Yamaha and buoyed by some great BYMX results a 19-year-old Ben decided to cut his teeth in adult racing during 2000 and finished an impressive eighth overall in the British U21 championship and third overall in the qualifiers for the main ACU British 125cc series. Then Foot and Mouth disease halted all motorcycle sport in the UK and with the prospect of little or no action actually taking place in 2001 Ben took up an offer to race in the USA.
Competing in the California Golden State Grand National series he posted ninth, eighth and third-placed finishes to earn second overall. On returning to the UK the Foot and Mouth crisis was thankfully over and Ben scored points in every round of a curtailed British championship.
Having proved to himself that he could be competitive in the main championship, Ben arrived at a major crossroads in his career and decided to make a bold and massive leap into becoming a full-time motocross rider. "I'm a person who has to be 100 per cent committed and dedicated in everything I do. I knew that if I was to compete against the best I also had to train, think and prepare like them!"
So he said goodbye to his employers Ledbury Van Hire and hello to full-time motocross. And what a great move that proved to be as aboard a one-year-old 125cc KtM he brilliantly won the ACU British U21 title and finished 11th overall in the main 125cc British MX championship. Ben's ability was quickly recognised as both Phoneparts KTM and Rob Hooper Suzuki chased his signature for 2003 with Ben plumping for the Phoneparts deal which also included clothing, a spares budget and even the use of a van! Good times!
The defence of his U21 title started strongly with podium placings at Winterpick Farm and Howton Court but Ben was not producing the desired results in the British 125cc championship. Desperate to keep his season on-track, he went back to preparing his own bike. "With the Phoneparts team having the bike for two or three days each week my lack of confidence in their set-up was affecting my racing. Having always prepared bikes myself I decided to take control. Using the successful settings I had used in the previous season when I won the Under 21 series my results immediately improved again."
At round three of the British 125cc championship Ben finished on the podium at Lyng behind Billy MacKenzie and Tom Church. Following his problems he'd also lost ground in the U21 title chase but with leader Jason Dougan missing the final round due to injury he could still mathematically retain his crown. In an incredible final meeting at Culham, Ben remained composed and cool to post a 1-1-3 scorecard and bag another crown by just a single point!
With the four-stroke revolution now taking control of the motocross scene, 2004 saw a move to thumper power for the first time and the RHR Yamaha team alongside Alex Rach and Jamie Lewis. That season was to also see him enter both the British and Irish GPs but both times out he failed to qualify. Despite again finishing inside the final top 10 in the main Maxxis ACU championship, Ben found the GP experience to be major eye-opener.
"Gore Basin made me think that maybe I'd reached a plateau in my riding ability and that it was going to be very difficult to push any faster and harder to move onto the next level and become a GP regular."
Following just one year on the RHR Yamaha, Ben then took up the offer of a Honda for the KRM Keith 'Piggy' Ree team. Then it was all change yet again and an unexpected return in 2006 to Phoneparts KTM. In an unhappy start to the season he crashed heavily at Matchams and broke his wrist. Sidelined for three months, his bike was returned to Phoneparts and this was to ultimately signal the end of Ben's pro racing career.
"This was certainly the lowest point in my racing career and I was feeling totally disillusioned. With plenty of time to consider my future I made the decision to then move into the AMCA. My dad had constantly told me how much he enjoyed riding with them and it also made sense as it released more time for me to concentrate on my Race Connections business."
So for the first time Ben threw his leg over an MX1 machine, competing aboard a Honda 450F and jumping straight into the AMCA championship alongside fellow ACU defector David Campbell. Under no pressure and able to enjoy their racing, Ben and David dominated the AMCA MX1 title chase in a titanic season-long struggle which was to go right down to an incredible last moto decider. After leading the series from round one, Ben looked all set to claim the championship crown when he grabbed the holeshot in that final moto at Nympsfield. But the race was stopped and red-flagged due to a fallen rival just 35 agonising seconds short of reaching the point at which the result would stand.
In the re-run Campbell produced a dream start while Ben's championship hopes ended in an opening turn collision...
Naturally, Ben was totally dejected but his spirits were to be quickly lifted just 24 hours later following a surprise telephone call. "Nick Webster of Delkevic told me how sorry he had felt for me to lose the title in such a manner. He then went on to ask me if I would be interested in riding for them in 2008 aboard a Kawasaki 450F and naturally I was absolutely delighted by this offer!"
That first year aboard the Delkevic Kawasaki was to ultimately end in yet more heartache. Locking horns with Campbell and co, Ben was to again lead the AMCA MX1 series going into the final round at a very wet and muddy Little Bowden. Suffering a devastating triple DNF due to mechanical problems, he dropped back to fourth in the final points table behind Campbell, Brad O'Leary and Charlie Hollis. For some riders such a demoralising blow could have been terminal but Ben remained mentally strong and bounced back in terrific style.
Still aboard the Delkevic Kawasaki, he was to eventually get his hands on that AMCA crown in 2009. Drawing on his fantastic natural ability and consistency he reeled off massive consecutive wins in the final seven motos of the championship season to make it a case of third time lucky. With that monkey now off his back Ben was far more relaxed and in 2010 quickly made it a title-winning double. Finishing on the podium in seven out of eight rounds, the crown was in the bag despite being pushed to a last moto decider by a very determined Lee Payne. Ben's success in 2010 was made even more remarkable by the fact that he was only able to go out practising twice during the year due to his business commitments!
At present Ben appears unsure of his plans for 2011 although he still talks of his love for two-stroke machines. "Wouldn't it be nice to win the AMCA MX2 title aboard a 144cc two-stroke and give those 250F four-bangers a thrashing?" he says with a glint in his eye. Well there's no doubt that if anybody can, Ben's the man...
Was this article helpful?