CATCH UP James Dabill

Fol­low­ing in the foot­steps of your sport­ing hero is al­ways go­ing to be a dif­fi­cult task, es­pe­cially when it’s the tri­als le­gend that is Dougie Lamp­kin.Off the back of a very suc­cess­ful youth tri­als ca­reer with a Ju­nior world ti­tle in 2005, Great Bri­tain’s


Is it sort of a move back home to Beta?

JD: It feels a bit like that to be hon­est, yes. As you are aware Beta is a brand that I am very fa­mil­iar with as I spent some years in my ca­reer with them, start­ing back in 2004 when the Top Trial Team first gave me my chance to be­come a pro­fes­sional rider and fol­low the dream that my par­ents and I had sac­ri­ficed so much for. The whole Bosi fam­ily and Beta were amaz­ing to me from the start. They took me in as part of the fam­ily and helped to make my life on the way up so much eas­ier. With­out them, it prob­a­bly would not have been pos­si­ble. The Bosi fam­ily will al­ways have a spe­cial place in my heart as we achieved so many great things to­gether.

Let’s move right back to the Scorpa.

JD: As you can imag­ine, rid­ing for the Cross­waites there was never much sym­pa­thy, and they could very eas­ily bring you back down to earth very fast! But Neil and Martin were ab­so­lutely su­perb with me, and I learnt so much from them in such a short pe­riod of time, and it is a time in my ca­reer that I thor­oughly en­joyed. When I ex­plained to them both about the op­por­tu­nity I had with the Top Trial Team they shook my hand, wished me the best of luck and said it was an op­por­tu­nity that they could not match and I could not miss, and so for that I am very grate­ful.

Hav­ing won the Ju­nior world ti­tle was it a big step up to the Tri­alGP class?

JD: A lot of peo­ple do not re­alise how big the gap is from Ju­nior to the GP level of rid­ing. We have seen in the past, so many good Ju­nior rid­ers just dis­ap­pear as soon as they hit the GP class. But it’s the same for every­body and the only way you can do it is to drink a big old can of man-up, put on your big-boy pants and dive straight in! So to say I was happy in my first year to nail a top 10 fin­ish would be an un­der­es­ti­ma­tion; I was ec­static.

Why the move to the Future Montesa team?

JD: It was one of the hard­est de­ci­sions of my ca­reer to leave the Top Trial Team fam­ily who had given me so much, but my man­ager at the time Jake Miller and I felt it was the next step in my ca­reer, not only in terms of di­rec­tion but fi­nan­cially as well. This also al­lowed me to bring Jack Lee on board as my min­der, who had just qual­i­fied as a Honda tech­ni­cian, and this be­came a very big piece of my puz­zle to mak­ing the next step. He was a very fast learner, and we soon be­came a great team and very good friends which we re­main to this day. I owe Jack and his fam­ily a hell of a lot of the time they gave to me through Jack com­ing with me around the world. It was al­ways go­ing to take a bit of time to adapt to the fourstroke, but with plenty of ma­chine rid­ing time, I soon got on top of it.

You re-wrote the his­tory book with your four-stroke win.

JD: Yes! I was re­ally happy with the win, and I had not re­alised un­til the fin­ish that Alan ‘Sid’ Lamp­kin was the last four-stroke win­ner in 1966 on his BSA. It’s quite strange that no one else has won on a four-stroke since I did in 2007. When I won the 100th ‘Scot­tish’ in 2011 on the Beta, I also be­came only the sec­ond rider to win on a two- and four-stroke, along­side Sammy Miller who won on Ariel and Bul­taco.

Why the move to Gas Gas in 2009?

JD: It was a no-brainer for me re­ally. I had pretty much fallen out with the job in 2008 and needed a new mo­ti­va­tion so when I had the chance to ride for ‘Shirty’ with fac­tory Gas Gas sup­port I jumped at the chance. I went and tried a ma­chine with John, and straight away he showed a lot of in­ter­est for hav­ing me on the team, and it was not long be­fore I was signed up and ready to give them a BTC ti­tle which he made very clear was their goal. Lit­tle did I know we would also be­come very good friends as well.

Your first Bri­tish ti­tle came in 2009.

JD: It was a very suc­cess­ful year, es­pe­cially in the UK as I took my first BTC. I man­aged to beat Dougie Lamp­kin in the first two rounds, which made it that lit­tle bit more spe­cial as the crit­ics could not say any­thing, but once again it was with Jack Lee and Shirty kick­ing my ‘ass’ all the way. I could not have achieved it with­out their hard work and the 150% ef­fort that Shirty puts into sup­port­ing his rid­ers. It was a great first year and one I will never for­get.

In 2010 your re­sults con­tin­ued to im­prove.

JD: I started to feel very com­fort­able and sta­ble with where I was and what I was do­ing; I was very happy. And this showed in my re­sults. I moved up to 6th in the world, and I man­aged to win ev­ery sin­gle round of the BTC to take my sec­ond cham­pi­onship. It was a very good year.

You moved to Beta in 2011 for the start of four years on the Ital­ian ma­chines.

JD: As I kid I had al­ways dreamed of been a fac­tory rider and I got that chance with Gas Gas in 2009/10, but in 2011 I was of­fered a ride with Beta as their num­ber one fac­tory rider, and with that comes a much better con­tract to which there was no way I could refuse. But I only ac­cepted af­ter I had tried the Ital­ian ma­chine, which I liked a lot, and it would set me up in good stead for the next four years.

More suc­cess came with the Beta.

JD: It took me quite a while to set­tle into the Beta role as be­ing num­ber one. It added quite a lot of pres­sure that I was not used to, but I dug deep and did the best I could, with great sup­port from the Beta fac­tory. We achieved a lot to­gether once I had found my feet, with my 2nd SSDT win in the 100th edition of the event, and three more Bri­tish ti­tles fol­lowed.

In 2014 you won the 100th edition of the Scott Trial.

JD: This I still be­lieve is one of the nicest mem­o­ries I will keep with me for­ever. What makes it so spe­cial is no­body can do it again. To win both the 100th SSDT and the Scott was a very, very cool mo­ment in my ca­reer.

How spe­cial was it to join Dougie Lamp­kin at Ver­tigo in 2015?

JD: To work with Dougie who was one of my idols was an amaz­ing op­por­tu­nity that once again I could not miss; also to be able to do some­thing com­pletely dif­fer­ent with a brand new ma­chine re­ally ap­pealed to me. I soon man­aged to build a great re­la­tion­ship with all the guys at Ver­tigo, and it made my two years with them a very com­fort­able and en­joy­able time. I was de­lighted to achieve so much with them as a team as most peo­ple did not ex­pect it, and even more so when we suf­fered the dif­fi­cult pass­ing of Martin Lamp­kin. The way Dougie rode that year in Scot­land was sen­sa­tional, and this was a mo­ment that hit ev­ery­one hard. I was lucky enough to spend time with Martin and the Lamp­kin fam­ily, and I am happy I had that chance be­cause he was a great man and a fan­tas­tic in­flu­ence who touched so many peo­ple around the world. He will al­ways re­main in my thoughts.

Your best TWC re­sults came in 2016.

JD: They sure did. The first one was a bit of a shock be­cause the event did not suit me, so it was a pleas­ant sur­prise, and it was the first Ver­tigo podium as well which made it ex­tra spe­cial. Then to do it again in Ger­many was bril­liant for me as it gave me the con­fi­dence to think ‘ac­tu­ally I can get used to this’, and then my 2nd place at Tong was just the ic­ing on the cake. An amaz­ing feel­ing and an amaz­ing day, es­pe­cially at my home GP.

In 2017 you moved to Gas Gas as its num­ber one rider

JD: Yes, a move back to Gas Gas for 2017 and along with that the num­ber one fac­tory spot again. It was the same sit­u­a­tion as most of my ca­reer; re­ally an­other op­por­tu­nity not to be missed and again a chance to do some­thing dif­fer­ent. This time it was a full fac­tory con­tract with no real ties to the UK and a chance to ride in the Span­ish Cham­pi­onship which, I soon came to re­alise, is it’s where it’s all hap­pen­ing and it was def­i­nitely an eye-opener. The Span­ish have got it sussed out, and that’s why their level is so high. It was a great thing for me es­pe­cially when I got to the world cham­pi­onships. It would not have been any­where near pos­si­ble though or as en­joy­able this sea­son with­out the ‘turbo en­gine’ of my min­der Jiri Svo­boda. Over the year we have built up a great work­ing re­la­tion­ship and also a fan­tas­tic friend­ship that will last for­ever, and I am for­ever grate­ful for his com­mit­ment, hard work and de­ter­mi­na­tion to achieve the goals we set. We win, and we lose to­gether. I am very ex­cited al­ready for 2018, when Jiri and I are back to­gether and ready to do bat­tle. We are Team 22.

So 2018 sees a re­turn to Beta.

JD: Yes it’s back to Beta for 2018/19 and the num­ber one fac­tory spot once again. A very easy de­ci­sion for me as the of­fer that came through re­ally ap­pealed to me, not only for my­self re­gard­ing rid­ing and sup­port but for what we have planned over the next cou­ple of years as a brand. It’s great to see a brand con­stantly search­ing for new di­rec­tions. I be­lieve at this stage in my ca­reer it’s a great place to be in terms of sta­bil­ity and that’s a great thing for my­self and my young fam­ily, and if you know me, you’ll know my fam­ily is my everything and very im­por­tant to me. This is pos­si­bly the sin­gle best de­ci­sion of my ca­reer. I had a great year at Gas Gas in 2017, and I would like to thank all the team at the fac­tory in Girona for mak­ing my life very easy.

2016: Ver­tigo 7th TWC – 1st BTC – 1st Scott.

2013: Beta 6th TWC

2014: Beta 6th TWC – 1st BTC – 1st Scott

2015: Ver­tigo 8th TWC – 1st BTC.

2014: Beta test­ing with Trial Mag­a­zine.

2010: Gas Gas 6th TWC – 1st BTC.

2009: Gas Gas 7th TWC – 1st BTC.

2012: Beta 6th TWC – 1st BTC.

2008: Montesa 8th TWC

2011: Beta 8th TWC – 1st BTC – 1st SSDT.

2007: Montesa 8th TWC – 1st SSDT. 2006: Beta 9th TWC. 2005: Beta 17th TWC.

2007: Montesa Win­ning Team Scott Trial.

In RD 1 of the new FIM X-Trial com­pe­ti­tion at Vendee France.

2018: Beta: It’s a case of com­ing back home.

2017 Gas Gas 6th TWC.

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