British Trial Champion James Dabill (Beta) heads into the 2019 FIM Trial World Championship determined to improve on his seventh-placed finish in last year’s TrialGP series.
Last season wasn’t the greatest for the 32-year-old on the world stage and, despite being one of the masters of the qualification session, the 2005 FIM Junior World Champion was never a serious podium contender with his best result – a fifth – coming at TrialGP Belgium.
"I've got another year on my contract with Beta so we'll see how this year goes,” he says, “but my mindset at the moment is to keep pushing in the world championship – I still think I've got a few years left in me.”
It’s safe to say that James is a man who embraces change and the new timed qualification system – introduced in 2017 – suits him right down to the ground.
"Personally, I enjoy the qualifying,” he says. “I've got the mentality of ‘I'm going for it’. It's a bit like Jaime Busto or Toni [Bou], you can see that they're not shy of having a go. Qualifying's there so you can put on a bit of a show and introducing speed to the sport gives it the buzz that sometimes I think we're missing.”
The previous year riding for Gas Gas, following two years with the fledgling Vertigo factory, he’d finished sixth for the sixth time in a world championship career stretching back to 2005. The highlight of 2017 was a second in Japan to go with his runner-up finish the previous year in Great Britain.
One of James’ main roles with Beta is to help develop young talent and with 18-year-old Toby Martyn – this year’s favourite in the Trial2 class – under his wing he has a great protégé.
"I got a fantastic offer with Beta to try something a little bit different. I was excited to see where the project would take me and obviously that's going to show now with getting Toby on board. Maybe if I'd stuck around somewhere I might have been better off results wise but I've never been one to look back and think 'what if?' – I've always made a decision and been happy with it.”
Having once been touted as ‘the next Dougie Lampkin’, James is perfectly positioned to guide possibly the brightest British prospect since he himself emerged as a serious talent.
"I really like Toby. I like his style, I like his approach to things, I like his mentality. He looks like he enjoys riding his bike. He's a really nice kid from a really nice family and I'm excited to see where he's going to go from here on in. He's still very young and has still got a lot to learn but as a rider and a person I've got a lot of time for him.
"I played quite a big part in trying to get him over [to Beta]. One of the goals we've got is we want a young rider to come on board and try and win Trial2 and progress through the rankings. I'm looking forward to working with him and trying to help him progress and make a good career out of trials.”
James will start his 14th full FIM Trial World Championship at TrialGP Italy on May 25-26 at the Metzeler Offroad Park at Pietramurata Di Dro in the north of the country.