Teenager Josh Bates has made the move into speedway’s Premier League after being drafted into the 2013 Scunthorpe Scorpions side.
Seventeen-year-old Bates has been brought into the reigning Premier League champions one to seven as a direct replacement for Gary Irving, who announced his retirement from the sport earlier this year.
In what will be just his second full season of competitive racing it will see Bates operate in two divisions after earlier agreeing terms to return to current National League champions Mildenhall Fen Tigers.
Although the move to Scunthorpe signals a big step up for the Barnsley-born rider, Fen Tigers co-promoter Michael Lee believes Bates is more than capable of scoring points at Premier League level.
“Fair play to Josh for taking up the opportunity as he knows the track at Scunthorpe well and if he does manage to get out in front in races up there then he could end up beating some decent riders as he will be hard to pass,” said Lee.
While wanting to see Bates progress and do well, the former King’s Lynn star is also mindful that the young Fen Tiger must demonstrate more control on the bike to avoid sustaining any injuries, having taken several wild tumbles last year.
“What we don’t want to see is Josh taking unnecessary risks in trying to chase bike wheels as there were times on the track last year which were a bit hairy as we know that Josh doesn’t fear anything,” said Lee.
“At the same time though we don’t want Josh getting demoralised if he keeps getting beaten.
“But Louis Carr (Bates’ mentor) will be keeping an eye on Josh to make sure these things don’t happen.”
Should Bates hit the track running in the Premier League, Lee is hoping the youngster will be able to carry over that form when returning to action in the National League for the Fen Tigers.
“It will be a big learning curve for Josh as he will be riding at lots of different tracks he is not use to,” said Lee. “But the whole thing will be a good experience for him and hopefully it will reflect on his National League scores.”