Lewis is continuing Tigers’ love affair

Mildenhall Fen Tigers 2012 captain Lewis Blackbird.'Mildenhall meet the riders evening.'18 Feb 2012.
Mildenhall Fen Tigers 2012 captain Lewis Blackbird.'Mildenhall meet the riders evening.'18 Feb 2012.
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LEWIS Blackbird has vowed to continue the Mildenhall Fen Tigers’ ‘love-in’ after being officially unveiled as the team’s new captain.

The Cambridgeshire-born speedster replaces Jack Hargreaves, who will not ride in the sport this year, after admitting he really wanted the job.

SIGNING ON THE DOTTED LINE: Josh Bates, who is pictured with Mildenhall Fen Tigers co-promoter Chris Louis, left, and team manager  Rob Henry, puts pen to paper at the meet the riders night on Saturday.

SIGNING ON THE DOTTED LINE: Josh Bates, who is pictured with Mildenhall Fen Tigers co-promoter Chris Louis, left, and team manager Rob Henry, puts pen to paper at the meet the riders night on Saturday.

And Blackbird — who turned 25 on Tuesday — wants to help the likes of teenage reserve Josh Bates fulfil their potential, just as he did in 2011 when doubling his starting average on his way to clinching silverware in his first full season of speedway.

“I wanted it to be me,” he said. “Last year I was privileged to have the likes of Michael Lee, Chris Louis and everybody else helping me along, and I want to help these new boys along this year.

“I hope the young reserves like Josh can follow in my footsteps and I want to help make their dreams come true, like mine did last year.”

And Blackbird, pictured, said his main aim for the team would be to maintain the incredible team spirit displayed by the Tigers in 2011.

“I want to keep that team spirit going, keep that love in the camp,” he said. “You can have good riders, but when you are a team it makes a big difference.”

Blackbird — who has worked hard over the winter so he can afford to take time off to prepare for meetings properly this season — will be joined in Mildenhall colours by Cameron Heeps, Dan Halsey, Joe Jacobs and new signings Stefan Nielsen and Josh Bates.

British/Danish rider Nielsen, who is based in Brandon, said: “I’m a local lad and I’ve always wanted to try and ride with Mildenhall, which I have thanks to Michael Lee, Chris Louis and Kevin Jolly. They were a very big influence in coming here.

Bates — who turned 16 this month and has been racing motorbikes for less than two years — added: “I just want to try my hardest and see what happens race-by-race — I’m really looking forward to it.”

The Tigers’ pre-season got off to the perfect start with Halsey and Nielsen finishing as the leading two riders during an open meet at Scunthorpe’s Eddie Wright Raceway on Saturday.

Bates also went well, while Heeps and Jacobs continue to impress in Australia, with the latter winning four races on his first outing after recovering from a broken ankle.

Via video message from down under, the pair revealed they could not wait to pull on the colours of the Fen Tigers once more this season.

Jacobs — who endured a miserable 2011, but has been riding well in Australia — said: “I’m really looking forward to the season – hopefully I can push forward and get some consistency.

“I have learned a lot while we have been out here.”

Star-in-the-making Heeps added: “I’m keen to come back this year – I think all the boys at Mildenhall have some unfinished business.

“Hopefully 2012 will be even better than last year.”

n Lewis Whitmore, 10, will continue as the Tigers’ mascot while also moving up to 250cc bikes in his racing this year.