THE TEEN CHAMPION CAUSING A STORM
uilding confidence is a fundamental part of any young racer’s development, so imagine what boost you must feel if you’re a 17-year-old with two car racing titles to your name already.
That’s exactly what James Dorlin has been able to achieve, and he’s turning heads as a result. Born into a family of racing enthusiasts, Dorlin stood little chance of escaping a bite from the racing bug – spending plenty of his formative years trackside watching father Peter and brother Richard racing a family Jaguar Mk2.
From the age of 10, Dorlin started karting at the local South Yorkshire Kart Club’s Wombwell track, where it quickly became clear that there was potential for him to go further.
“We knew that as soon as I was 14 and able to move up into car racing, that was what we’d do,” says the 17-year-old. “Karting was still important, but it was about balancing learning racecraft without spending too much money on it because we knew that we wanted to move up. I did it for three years, won the championship in 2012 and then the following year moved into what was then called Saxmax.”
The final year of Saxmax wasn’t exactly the championship’s finest, but Dorlin stuck at his task. Having finished runner-up in his first year, Dorlin duly became the first winner of the revamped Junior Saloon Car Championship in 2014 in a Citroen Saxo VTR, before opting to jump into the Michelin Clio Series with Westbourne Motorsport – a relationship that had been growing through his spell in the JSCC, having raced alongside Westbourne boss Richard Colburn’s son Ben.
“The Clios were running on the same package as the Junior Saloons so it made it quite an easy transition,” he says. “The car was the same as the one that used to run on the TOCA package and it was a natural step up; there’s a natural progression and that made the Michelin series stand out as the best option. You’ve got to learn your trade before you move into the top levels.”
But there was a problem. An April birthday meant he was too young to take part in the opening round of the 2015 season, with Dorlin forced to sit out the opening triple header. His first taste of the package in anger might also have been enough to put him off, the second round taking place at Thruxton, but Dorlin soon steadied himself and ended the year sixth in the points.
“I wasn’t quite old enough to race at