Cup defence proves an inspiration for Tigers

PERFECT PERFORMANCE: Cameron Heeps, who earned himself five race wins
PERFECT PERFORMANCE: Cameron Heeps, who earned himself five race wins
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NATIONAL LEAGUE

KNOCKOUT CUP

FIRST ROUND FIRST LEG

Mildenhall Fen Tigers 55

King’s Lynn Young Stars 40

by Derek Bish at Mildenhall Stadium

DAN Halsey scored a 12-point maximum and then declared winning the National League Knockout Cup in 2011 has inspired the Mildenhall Fen Tigers to repeat that feat in 2012.

Teenage Australian Cameron Heeps also earned a maximum by winning all five of his races as the Tigers began their defence of the trophy by opening a 15-point advantage over East Anglia rivals King’s Lynn Young Stars after the first leg of their first round encounter.

It was a welcome sign of things to come from Heeps, who Halsey hopes to join in the speedway Premier League by the end of the season by continuing to impress at West Row.

The 23-year-old Buckinghamshire-born race ace said: “We wanted a 10-point lead to take into the second leg so are over the moon with 15.

“It didn’t look like it was possible after they pulled back an 8-1 in heat 12, but we dug deep and are fairly confident going to Lynn now.

“Everyone reminded us we were defending the title – it geed the boys up and we put in a good performance.”

Speaking about his maximum haul of four race wins from four, Halsey added: “I’m over the moon because that’s the first maximum I’ve had for a couple of seasons.

“I want my average to be up around the eight or nine-point figure and getting a Premier League spot.”

Heeps – who appeared a little off the pace in the Tigers’ season opener last week – stormed to victory in heat one and he never looked back, with Mildenhall not surrendering their advantage all evening.

Joe Jacobs may have had a slow start, scoring one point from his first two rides, but 15-year-old Nathan Stoneman did not, finishing first in heat two and just behind skipper Lewis Blackbird when the Tigers secured their first one-two in race six.

Fellow reserve Josh Bates had mixed fortunes. He harried Scott Campos into a mistake to take third in heat four, but suffered two crashes.

The second of those two crashes not only cost him two points for a second-place finish, but saw him withdrawn from the rest of the meeting.

When Heeps and Jacobs – the latter having found his feet – slammed home a 5-1 result in heat 10 it appeared a question of just how big a lead Mildenhall would take to King’s Lynn for the second leg on May 2.

But back-to-back one two finishes from the Young Stars – the second led home by a double-scoring Lewis Kerr – saw the Tigers’ advantage drop from 16 points to five.

However, Mildenhall re-established their dominance to take two 5-1s and a 4-2 in the last three heats, with Heeps, Halsey and Blackbird – who may have also scored a paid maximum had it not been for a technical issue off the line in heat 11 – starring.

n Joe Jacobs and Stefan Nielsen reached the British Under-21 final, to be held at Monmore Green Stadium on Tuesday (7.30pm).

n Nathan Stoneman and Josh Bates finished first and second in the opening round of the British Youth Championship.

n Tigers mascot Lewis Whitmore finished third in the first round of the 250cc championship.