Former Mildenhall Fen Tigers star Joe Jacobs feels that he has been a victim of his own success after failing to secure a team place in either the Premiership or the Championship.
The 23-year-old, who was a member of the West Row outfit’s Grand Slam winning side of 2012, is facing up to the prospect of being left on the sidelines in speedway racing’s top two divisions for the 2017 season.
Last year the Woodbridge-based rider helped the Belle Vue Aces reach the Elite League grand final along with increasing his average during a spell with the Ipswich Witches in speedway’s second tier.
“I really enjoyed my racing a lot last year after having a break. I felt I came back a much better rider,” said Jacobs. “I did okay at Belle Vue then I rode for Ipswich between July and September and put 1.2 points on my average to finish on an average over five points. I’ve had a few National League clubs speak to me but I kind of feel I’ve proved myself at that level and that it would be a step backwards if I go down that route. It is a bit disappointing not to have had any offers higher up but speedway is just a big averages game and as mine has gone up I’ve been penalised for it.”
Despite the lack of interest in his services so far, Jacobs remains optimistic that he will get the chance to shine on the track at some point in the season.
“It is frustrating but I’ve just got to keep my chin up,” added Jacobs. “There will be injuries to riders in that first month and promoters will switch things around.
“I am still set up and ready to go and I’d like to think that I might get a call from Belle Vue as they have not yet finalised their plans.”
Fellow former Grand-Slam winning Fen Tiger Stefan Nielsen finds himself in the same situation as Jacobs, despite having starred for top flight outfit Swindon Robins and for the Plymouth Devils in the second tier in 2016.
“I thought I had a good season,” he said. “For Swindon it was a little up and down and I didn’t reach the heights I wanted but then again there were a few good spells and positives to take from it. My real target was to establish myself as a top five rider in the Premier League with Plymouth and really ride consistently and I feel that I achieved that with flying colours.
“I’ve been back to Denmark to work this winter to keep my new equipment up to the highest standard and I have a full-time mechanic ready to work on the bikes. I really want to show everyone what I am about this year but without a team that will be difficult.”
n Earlier this week the fixtures were released for this year’s National League. The Fen Tigers will start the campaign with the Fen Fours event on Sunday, April 9, with their first National League fixture taking place away to Cradley on April 17 (see www.newmarketjournal.co.uk for full list).
Fans are reminded that the club will be hosting their annual Meet The Riders event at Mildenhall Stadium on Saturday at 7pm.