Former 125cc world champion Jamie Dobb has signed to ride with the RWJ Honda squad in the 2004 MX2 World Championship.

Dobb will be riding a 'kitted' version of the new CRF 250 four-stroke that will be making its debut on the GP stage after losing his ride with KTM.

The 31-year-old, who is now back into a full training regime after a severe dislocation of his left shoulder that prematurely terminated his 2003 season, is expected to be one of the championship favourites in the new GP series that will see 125cc two-strokes face-off against 250cc four-strokes.

Seven-times GP winner Dobb has secured several of his own personal sponsors to help him in his quest for a second World Championship, after becoming the first and only title holder for Britain in the 125cc class back in 2001, and is now the lead rider of the RWJ Honda team.

"This is an exciting time and I feel refreshed about my racing because the last two years have been extremely difficult," Dobb remarked from his home near Donington Park. "I was constantly testing or trying to develop a new motorcycle (with KTM) and the lack of progress overall was affecting my confidence.

"Now I am with Honda I know that I can be better prepared before I get to the track and be thinking 100% about my racing instead of worrying about the bike and its performance. The deal I have put together with the help of Colin (Reed, team owner) and some excellent backers gives me a great opportunity to hopefully show the kind of form that won the GP last year in Austria.

"Honda make the best motorcycles in the world, I don't need to highlight their record," he stated. "When they put their mind to it they can win anything they want. I had other options for 2004 but when the chance came to ride the four-stroke it was a matter of taking some time to get everything into place and there was no doubt where I would be riding for next year.

"The main difference for me now - and I haven't felt this way for at least two years - is that I am happy," he revealed. "I believe the deal, bike and whole package I have is very strong and now I have to bring my end of the bargain up to the same level."

The last time Dobb entered the old 125cc GP category he won at the Karntenring circuit for the Grand Prix of Austria in 2002. His last full-time campaign in the class was his title-winning sortie when he claimed seven race victories from ten GPs completed and never finished off the podium riding a 125cc two-stroke KTM.

In 2003 Stefan Everts won 8 from 9 races riding Yamaha's 250cc four-stroke and two riders from the top three in the final classification were steering 'thumpers'.

The 2004 MX2 Championship is going to be the most competitive series for many years with factory entries from Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki, Husqvarna and KTM with names such as three times World Champ Alessio Chiodi, '03 title challenger Andrea Bartolini, Ben Townley, Marc de Reuver, Erik Eggens, Andrew McFarlane, 2002 Champion Mickael Maschio, Stephen Sword and Tyla Rattray already confirmed.

Next season will also see Dobb returns to the British Championships - a series the four-times British champion, in both 125 and 250cc categories, has often been critical of the national series.

Now his reappearance, after a three-year absence, prompts a mouth-watering battle with young hotshot and double Champion Stephen Sword who has signed to be a factory rider with the new Kawasaki 250cc four-stroke.

"The bikes will be based with me and I will be riding the British Championships again, which despite what some people might think, I am glad about," he confirmed. "I never agreed with the race format in the past, which was different to the GP one-moto programme, but now both Championships have changed, and they compliment each other.

"KTM were never prepared to support me at home purely because they are based in Austria and I did not believe in turning up to race with my practice bike. Now I will be aiming to give Honda another British title and their first success at the GPs with the 250 four-stroke," Dobb concluded.



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