DANIEL Halsey will today be confirmed as the first rider to sign for the Mildenhall Fen Tigers next season, the Bury Free Press can reveal.
The talented 23-year-old ended the season in fine style, top scoring in each of the two legs of the National League Knockout Cup final.
And Buckinghamshire-born Halsey is already looking forward to getting back on the West Row circuit.
“Last year was one of the best years I’ve had in speedway,” said Halsey. “I want to go back because there is a really good atmosphere around the place.
“I want to double my average, be number one at Mildenhall and get in the Premier League.
“If we can put another team together that wins some silverware then that would just top it off again.”
Co-promoter Michael Lee added: “Even when he was having a bad spell last season he stuck to the task and I like to see that in a rider.
“If he can start the year right, I believe he’s capable of an eight or nine-point average.
“It’s great he really wants to come back to Mildenhall.”
Halsey is set to start the season on an average in the region of 4.80 points.
National League rules state each side must begin the campaign with their riders’ combined average no more than 40 points — the seven Tigers who finished the 2011 season would come up to 44.85.
That means at least one, possibly two, of the Knockout Cup winning team will lose their ride at West Row, but Mildenhall are keen and confident of adding Aussie teenager Cameron Heeps to their ranks once again.
The 16-year-old put pen to paper on a deal to ride for Premier League outfit Ipswich Witches next season, but Mildenhall co-promoter and Ipswich director Chris Louis hopes the youngster can ride for both sides.
“There will be a decision made about riders doubling up at the National League AGM in January, but we are fully expecting Cameron to be able to ride for both teams next season,” he said.
Meanwhile, Heeps, Joe Jacobs and Lewis Blackbird were involved in last week’s traditional season finale for the Ipswich Witches — the 16-lap classic.
Riding against Premier League and Elite League standard riders, Jacobs was 12th, Blackbird 11th, but it was Heeps — on his 16th birthday — who really shone, finishing fourth overall after racing to third place in the 16-lap final race.
Heeps and Jacobs have flown out to Australia for the start of the season down under.
n THE curtain finally came down on the Mildenhall Fen Tigers’ astonishing season on Friday night, as supporters packed into Worlington Hall for the club’s awards night to give the National League Knockout Cup winners a rapturous reception and to see Lewis Blackbird named as the club’s rider of the year.
Blackbird more than doubled his starting average, after making a late switch from King’s Lynn to West Row.
“I am almost lost for words,” said Blackbird. “It’s been a brilliant year that’s gone better than I could have ever dreamed of.”
Awards also went to Aussie teenager Heeps (most entertaining rider of the year) and Halsey (most improved rider of the year), while Aaron Baseby, Joe Jacobs and team manager Rob Henry picked up awards from supporters.