LEWIS Blackbird and Cameron Heeps will be aiming to make full use of home advantage as they seek to land this year’s National League Pairs competition at Mildenhall Stadium on Sunday.
Mildenhall Fen Tigers captain Blackbird and dynamic Australian Heeps will pair up for the competition, which was switched to Mildenhall from the now defunct Newport, having been selected to represent the club by the team’s management body.
Twenty-five-year-old Blackbird, who has recently signed for Premier League outfit the Leicester Lions, believes that both him and Heeps must be on their game from the start if they are to have any chance of succeeding.
“It is important that we make good starts on Sunday as we can’t afford to be playing catch-up in a competition like this,” said Blackbird.
“If we can make the starts and get out of our group then there is no reason why we can’t go on to win it.”
The pair, who both returned with double-figure points hauls during the clubs’s National League clash with the Isle of Wight on Sunday, will line up in Group A against representatives from Isle of Wight, Rye House and Buxton.
Although wary of the competition in the group stage, Blackbird feels the team to beat may hail from Group B, which consists of Stoke, Dudley, Scunthorpe and King’s Lynn.
“Looking at the group we are in we should get through,” said Blackbird. “I think if Stoke make it through they will be our main rivals as both Simon Lambert and Ashley Birks ride the track at Mildenhall well and are in good form.”
Despite representing the club in the National League Pairs competition on Sunday, both Blackbird and Heeps will miss the Fen Tigers’ National League home clash with the Buxton Hitmen under the floodlights 24 hours earlier, due to Premier League commitments.
The pair will face each other on track when the Leicester Lions take on the Ipswich Witches at the Beaumont Sports Complex, with Blackbird in action for the Lions and Heeps the Witches.
Despite only having a handful of rides for the Lions, Blackbird has already noticed a large gulf in class between the two leagues.
“I thought that I would be scoring good points straight away but it has been a bit more difficult than I thought and the difference in leagues is a bit of a shock,” said Blackbird.
“The biggest difference is the pace as things are so much quicker and you can’t afford not to make the start.
“It is going to take me a bit of time to adjust but I feel I will get there.”