James Dobb – The Last British Champion

Courtesy of Youthstream Media Service Team

Great Britain’s last World Motocross Champion James Dobb turned professional in 1987, aged 15, signing a contract with the Factory Cagiva team, widely acclaimed as a future world champion. Having raced all over the world though, it wasn’t until the 1999 season that he really started making waves in the FIM Motocross World Championship.

Dobb had his best finish in the World 125cc Motocross Championship in 1999 when he finished fifth on the series points. His good form saw him move to the KTM Factory Racing team in 2000, a move which gave him the momentum to challenge for the 125cc world title. He finished second to fellow KTM rider Grant Langston in 2000, before dominating the 2001 championship securing his, and Great Britain’s, first title in the 125cc World Championship and their last.

Despite taking victory at the famous Foxhills circuit in 2000, one of the last times a British rider has won at home, Dobb sights the legendary circuit of Namur a year later, as his favorite GP victory.

“Namur, 2001,” Dobb said. “I had broken my collarbone in Sweden shortly before Namur, then had it fixed and raced in France a few days later. I had another crash on the Wednesday practicing after France and broke the other collarbone before Namur. I went there not knowing if I would be able to race, and of course I did, and it was amazing. It was a bit muddy in the morning, got a terrible start, then my roll-offs broke on the first lap, so I had no goggles at the end of the first lap. I think I was in 12th at the time. I ended up winning the race by 15 seconds and realistically, it was the day I won the world title, because mathematically, I could still be beaten, but the points I had at Namur, Ramon hadn’t gotten all season. So, I have my Namur jersey in my room at home and the Gaildorf one, where I officially won the championship.”

“It was the situation (of the injuries), but also Namur, having been there as a kid and like recently with that has happened to Eric. I remember being at Namur when he won his last world title (and retired). I was a big fan of Dave Thorpe, and Georges Jobe and I remember their battles at Namur as a kid. I used to be that kid, I just loved looking at factory bikes and as a kid I would just stand there and look at them, and just watching the riders and how they did. You know what Namur was like for a person, more British public than Belgians and being a bit of a historian in the sport, it was just special. It was motocross, that place was real motocross and to win there, it was special.”

Despite his championship winning season in 2001, he would never really fight for a World Championship title again, and eventually retired in 2004, satisfied with the fact he is still known as the last British rider to win an FIM Motocross World Championship. Author:  Geoff Meyer

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