Captain Danny Ayres makes Mildenhall Fen Tigers history by reaching British Final
Mildenhall Fen Tigers captain Danny Ayres continued his scintillating start to the season on Friday when creating his own slice of history to reach the British Final, writes Graham Clark.
While a number of riders have reached the prestigious individual final – to take place at the National Speedway Stadium on July 29 – to be crowned 2019 British Champion after their stint with the Fen Tigers, the 32-year-old is the first to do so while sporting the third tier club’s colours.
After being a late call-up to the meeting at Redcar, Ayres, who also rides for Championship side Scunthorpe Scorpions, excelled to finish third overall along with collecting three race wins.
“I’m a history maker and the feeling to have actually done it and reach the final is immense. I wasn’t that far off winning the meeting but I was just pleased to get the call-up,” said the former Newmarket schoolboy.
“I am confident in believing in myself in what I can do now. It is great that all the hard work over the winter has paid off and that I am now in the main event.”
Though Ayres faces a tall order in going two places better than in the semi-final, he hopes that he can turn a few more heads in the title decider next month.
“It was just a relief to make the final and now everything else is just a bonus as it is going to be hard work,” added Ayres.
“The more confident I get the more I will improve. I know it is a massive meeting but I’m motoring at the moment.”
Fellow Fen Tigers rider David Wallinger also participated in the event scoring two points as one of the two meeting reserves.
Meanwhile, Dan Halsey will not let sentiment get in the way of his return to his old stomping ground on Sunday when the Mildenhall Fen Tigers go head-to-head with the Cradley Heathens in the National League.
Having spent seven successive seasons between 2011 and 2017 with the Fen Tigers, along with a standing in for them last season as injury cover for Jordan Jenkins, the 30-year-old will return to his old stomping ground.
After scoring 10 points at Mildenhall Stadium when lining up as a guest for the Leicester Lion Cubs last month, Halsey hopes he can better that tally and help the Heathens complete a League double over the Fen Tigers.
“It will be a bit of a strange one riding for Cradley against Mildenhall but I’m going to be going out there to score as many points for the team that signed me and pay my points money,” said Halsey.
“I scored 10 for Leicester the other week. I won my first two races quite comfortably and I made the start in the third then I came off at the first bend of the first lap as I was more worried about Danny Ayres.
“I think I can better that total as I am as quick as anyone round Mildenhall. It will be nice to see everyone again but I want to do better than normal and it definitely helps motivate you because of the rivalry between the clubs.”
Had it not been for interest over the winter from the Heathens then the sight of Halsey, who was a key member of the Fen Tigers 2012 Grand Slam-winning side, racing this season would have been slim.
“Cradley are a very professional club, as are Mildenhall, but every team is different,” said Halsey. “There was only a few clubs I would have ridden for this season. I was going to call it a day.
“When Cradley came in I was just up for the challenge. I knew they were a good club and I have found myself getting on with the track there better than I expected to.”
With only two points splitting the sides during their last encounter which the Heathens won thanks to a 5-1 in the finale Halsey expects another tight tussle to take place.
“It’s a tough one to call as we have only had one away meeting in the Knock Out Cup against the Isle Of Wight which we won but Mildenhall can be a tricky place,” said Halsey.
“They have been very strong at home so I think it will be a close one as long as me Max Clegg and Jack Smith can score well. Losing Tom Brennan was a shame as he was one of the strongest riders in the league but Jack Smith has been doing okay.
“There will be no more pressure on me although I will be expected to give my experience with the track. As long as I pull my weight the rest will be up to them.”
* On Monday, the Fen Tigers are away to Belle Vue Colts (7.30pm).