On an evening of high drama at Monmore Green, Mildenhall’s exciting teenage sensation Josh Bates was crowned the new British Under-21 champion.
With nearly half the field featuring current or former Fen Tigers there was interest for Mildenhall supporters in virtually every heat.
The evening did not start well though for Bates with a fall when leading his first race, but he bounced back with two heat wins first ahead of Tom Perry and then beating team mate Joe Jacobs.
A second behind Kyle Howarth and a fine heat eighteen victory over Adam Ellis and Ashley Morris then secured his place in the semi-final.
He was joined in the semi-final by Jacobs who scored twelve points with three heat victories, with line-up completed by Jason Garrity and Ashley Morris.
Going straight into the final were joint top scorers Ellis and former Fen Tiger Stefan Nielsen who both amassed thirteen points
The semi-final saw Garrity lead Jacobs before Bates managed to pass his teammate on lap three and secure his place in the final.
If the night had been dramatic so far then the final itself would top all that had gone before. The first running saw Bates make the gate and lead the field before Nielsen came down on the third bend colliding with Garrity, Nielsen being excluded.
The re-run saw Garrity and Ellis come down on the first bend with Garrity being judged the cause and being excluded. Suddenly it was down to a match race between Bates and Ellis and after Bates eased out Ellis off the first two bends he pulled away from the Ipswich rider to win the race and take the crown, leaving Fen Tigers chairman Kevin Jolly delighted by his rider’s success.
“What a great night for Josh, things didn’t always go his way tonight but he showed that not only is he a fantastic young talent and a real racer, but he is a battler too with a big heart,” he said.
“Josh has been with us since the start of his career and he epitomises all that the club is about, bringing on young British talent.
“When I looked at tonight’s line-up and saw so many riders who have ridden for us in the field I was very proud and felt this shows we must be doing something right.
“Hopefully the supporters will turn out in force Saturday to welcome Josh home, he is sure to receive a great reception.
“Joe (Jacobs) also performed with great credit, especially when you consider he has been suffering badly with the flu. Jack (Kingston) and Connor (Coles) didn’t let themselves down either and will be better for this experience. All in all it has been another great night for Mildenhall speedway”.