Former World and AMA motocross champion Ben Townley has been injured in a practice incident in his native New Zealand.

Townley hit a false neutral going up a hill and was thrown onto the handlebars - he didn't even fall off, but the incident caused a perforation of his bowel which has already been surgically repaired.

The popular Kiwi is on the comeback trail following several seasons hit by a catalogue of injuries in the States and had planned to resurrect his career by racing the first few rounds of the MX1 World Championship in Europe before returning to America. That will now not happen.

"This is definitely a bummer for me," said a disappointed Townley from his hospital bed. "I was really looking forward to racing in Europe in April. Obviously, that isn't going to happen now. I have a lot of friends over there and I'll definitely race some GPs again someday."

However, BT should be recovered in time for the opening round of the AMA national motocross championships in May.

"The good news here is that Ben was finally back to where he needed to be," said TLD team manager David Pingree. "I spoke with him over the weekend and he was truly ready to race. He said he finally found the speed and level of riding that he had several years ago and he was excited about it. That is what he needed. This is a small, unfortunate hiccup but you have to look at this big-picture: he's going to be ready to race at Hangtown."

By Paul Harris