FORMER world speedway champion Michael Lee believes Mildenhall Fen Tigers’ teenage sensation Cameron Heeps is showing the promise needed to follow in his footsteps and lift the global crown.
Lee, now a promoter at West Row, stormed to the world title in Sweden in 1980, and also finished third on two occasions.
And after Heeps scored an incredible 20-point haul on his first visit to the Dudley Heathens’ Wolverhampton circuit on Tuesday night, Lee hailed his young protégé as a future “world class” star.
“He’s got a steep learning curve, but nothing fazes the lad,” said Lee of the 15-year-old Australian. “Whoever he rides against, he wants to win, and he was unlucky not to get the full 21-point maximum.
“Give him another two or three years and he will be up among it at the top level and in maybe three, four or five years he will be world class.
“It’s early days, but he certainly has the talent. There are a lot of things involved to be world champion aside from talent.”
Fellow Aussies Chris Holder, Darcy Ward and Troy Batchelor have made huge names in the British Elite League in recent years, and Heeps is expected to move a step closer to joining them by riding in the Premier League next year.
“These Aussie boys are a different breed,” added Lee. “They have something our British boys don’t that you can’t quite put your finger on.”
Heeps’ 20-point haul may have been an outstanding new high in his fledgling career, but more importantly it lifted the Tigers to second in the National League table.
A losing bonus point would have been considered a good result, admitted Lee, but Heeps was well backed up by skipper Jack Hargreaves (13+3) and the rest of the team to score their first league success on their travels this season.
“It was a fantastic job,” said Lee. “They all deserve a pat on the back.”
But with the top seven sides in the 10-team league separated by less than two maximum-point away wins, the co-promoter is well aware his outfit cannot rest on their laurels.
“It’s going to be a tight finish for the play-offs and it would be sad not to make it now,” he added. “We just have to keep the ball rolling.”
The Tigers travel to the Newport Hornets tomorrow (7pm), but will have to make do without Joe Jacobs, who is away on international duty with the British under-19 squad. Rider-replacement will be used to cover his absence.
However, Mark Baseby expects to have recovered from a knee injury that ruled him out of Tuesday’s victory at the Heathens.