New KTM Motocross Racing Team rider on a variety of topics.
Teenage Sunshine Coaster Jesse Dobson has caught a lot of people by surprise this year. Considering he could still be racing the MXD class for another couple of years, the 17-year-old had a rocky start to his rookie season in MX1 before finding enough form and results to earn a spot next to Kirk Gibbs at the KTM Racing team for the 2014 Australian Supercross Championship. With so much going on for him, we caught up with the kid and fired five questions at him that all start with ‘why’.
Why did you leave MXD for the MX1 class in 2014?
At the start of the year I was planning to ride a two-stroke for KTM in the MX2 class, but after talking with KTM and riding with Ford Dale a bit, we decided to step up to the MX1 class as KTM was looking for 450 riders. I’ve trained on a 450 for a couple of years since I was a junior and it suits my riding style as I’m smoother on the throttle and hop over things on the track. Before the season we talked about it around the table and thought it’d be a good idea to jump straight in, not to pull big results, but to learn and maybe get noticed for next year, where I can then build up and get some good results then. By going straight to the MX1 class I’ve sort of got a step ahead of everyone else as well.
Why were your results so mixed this year?
We struggled a lot with suspension at the beginning of the nationals, then we found out a week before Conondale that my race fork had different valving from my practice bike. Until then I’d ride really strong at practice and be able to put in good laps and motos, but I’d get arm-pump 10 minutes into a race. Once we found out what was going wrong we were able to turn it around and the results started coming. At Conondale I ran third for most of the first race before I dropped it and finished sixth, then I placed inside the top 10 for the rest of the year. I also struggled with the suspension at Coolum: we’d focused so much on getting a good hard-pack setting that we didn’t have anything worked out for the sand. The fork wasn’t handling well at all there, so I ended up riding my practice bike instead. All in all though, I learnt a lot this year – far more than I would’ve learnt racing in MX2, that’s for sure.
Why did KTM sign you up for the SX series?
Well Luke Styke has signed for next year, but he wanted to have a break and not race the supercross. The team wanted another rider alongside Kirk Gibbs and I’d spent a lot of time in the truck with Mini [Kyle Blunden], Danny Apro and Rob Tywerould this year. I also have a great relationship with Jeff [Leisk]. Rob said one of the reasons he wanted to work with me was that my attitude to always give 100 percent and not leave anything on the table impressed him. Even if my suspension is wrong or whatever, I always give it everything. One of my goals this year was to try and get noticed, and to now get picked up by one of the best teams in Australia is awesome. I feel like I’m heading in the right direction both on and off the bike.
Why do you think Australian supercross has had so many ups and downs over the past five years?
That’s a tricky question. Everyone has opinions on why it’s been up and down, but I don’t think there’s one right answer for it. I think Yarrive Konsky does a good job of it, but the calendar getting released late this year probably hurt the 2014 series by causing Yamaha to pull out. The tracks last year were good, but in Australia it feels as though the advertising is lacking a little and it doesn’t get a lot of public attention. Being alongside Bathurst and the MotoGP will draw good crowds and I’m excited that the final round at Boondal will be indoors again.
Why are you currently training in NSW?
In Queensland there aren’t many supercross tracks. I’m staying with Brock McLeary at the moment and he has a good training facility where the current champ, Matt Moss, trains every day. Mossy’s just left for Europe, but I thought ‘why not train where the fast guys train?’. Then Jay Marmont’s track is close by too. It made sense to come down here, learn from the boys and ride what they’re riding. They know what’s going on and they’re not champions for nothing.