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Sunday 28 Aug
3:00pm

NDL

Mildenhall
Fen Tigers

v

Oxford
Chargers

On a protracted afternoon of thrills and spills in the GB U21 Championship semi-final at Mildenhall Speedway, proudly sponsored by Manchetts Rescue and Recovery, there was a combination of celebration and extreme commiseration for the West Row faithful: with the gloss somewhat taken off home star Jason Edwards’ meeting winning maximum, after the events of heat two saw young local prospect, just making his way in the sport, William Richardson suffering a serious leg injury.

The teenager from Edingthorpe had stepped into the field after the withdrawal late yesterday of Belle Vue rider Archie Freeman and was looking forward to what was his competitive debut. And what a start Richardson made, leading his first outing going into bend two - when events behind him saw a coming together which led to the chasing Nathan Ablitt shunting into Richardson’s rear wheel, thus catapulting the hapless rider into the fence.  It was a freak accident, in that few would’ve expected a nasty leg break to result - but sadly that was William’s fate and all attention then was on getting the youngster into the hands of expert medical attention. That was via the track paramedics and then the wait ensued for cover to take the teenager to hospital.

It was a long wait but eventually after Richardson was safely on his way, replacement medical & ambulance cover arrived, allowing the action to continue.

Step forward another youngster who impressed last year in after meeting rides at West Row, 15 year old Jody Scott, getting the unlikeliest of chances to mix it with the big boys on his completive debut also. And really Jody turned out to be writing the story of the meeting, as he went out in that long-delayed rerun of heat two and won the race – by a distance indeed. And Great Scott, Jody backed this up with a trio of second places in his last three rides to finish equal sixth and face a run-off for the remaining place in the British U21 Final itself!

Meanwhile, amongst all the drama on and off track one cool head stood shoulders above his peers – with Jason Edwards being ‘Billericay Slicky’ as he cruised to five imperious race wins. His main opponent former World Youth Champion, Kyle Bickley was dispatched in Jason’s second ride; and once, in heat 14, former Fen Tigers’ team mate Henry Atkins got the view of Edwards’ rear wheel, it was something of a formality to wrap up the maximum and top step on the podium in his last ride.

There were contrasting fortunes for Edwards’ two league title winning team-mates of last term. Sam Hagon scored a nicely solid 10 points including a vital race win in heat 17 to qualify for his first U21 Final. But for Nathan Ablitt it was an afternoon to forget. Shedding his chain on the way to the tapes for the second staging of the ill-fated heat two put him on the back foot immediately and failing to get the better of either of the McGurk siblings proved costly, as did a third place behind Bickley and Atkins in his last chance in heat 20 and he became the biggest casualty of the cut-throat qualification process.

Belle Vue team mate of Ablitt’s, Harry McGurk had a crash in his third ride and that meant come the end of the regulation heats, he was tied on nine with debutant Scott. The run-off was a step too far for young Jody but what a heroic effort, rewarded by the reserve berth when the national championship is decided at Birmingham’s Perry Barr stadium in August.

Of an eventful afternoon, co-owner Phil Kirk spoke on behalf of the club’s management team,

“Firstly I'd like to go on record thanking our supporters for their patience this afternoon - there were certain issues today that we will be resolving ahead of next Sunday's (17/4) meeting, vs Poultec Select . Also a big thank you to the riders, our track staff and the referee and GB Young Lions co-ordinator, Neil Vatcher who worked with us to ensure we could complete today's meeting; it was a real team effort.

“We have been in touch with William's father and are saddened to hear William faces a lengthy break from the sport following today’s accident.  It has taken the gloss off of the day for us as William is a fine young man and already very popular around the club. We look forward to welcoming back to the club when his recovery allows.

“On a brighter note, Jason (Edwards) was immaculate and showed what fans can expect from this impressive rider this year.  He fully deserved his victory and we wish him well in the final at Birmingham later in the season.  One other bright spot was Jody Scott's performance in his first Speedway meeting at this level.  He was so calm and controlled on the bike and is a such a stylish young rider who like William we enjoy having around the club.”

The next Speedway action at West Row is on Easter Sunday, 17th.April (3pm start time) when the 2022 Fen Tigers take to the track in team action for the first time against a Poultec Select of young GB talent.

GB U21 Semi Final Scorecard

1st  2. Jason Edwards (Mildenhall Fen Tigers & Redcar Bears) 3 3 3 3 3 = 15 (maximum)
2nd 14. Kyle Bickley (Berwick Bandits and Bullets) 3 2 3 3 3 = 14
3rd 11. Henry Atkins (Plymouth Gladiators and Centurions) 3, 3, 3, 2, 2 = 13
4th  9. Sam McGurk (Belle Vue Colts) 1 3 2 3 2 = 11
5th 10. Sam Hagon (Oxford Chargers) 2 1 3 1 3 = 10
6th  3. Harry McGurk (Belle Vue Colts) 1 2 FX 3 3 = 9(after R/O)

Top six all qualify for GB U21 Final on Wednesday August 24 at Perry Barr (Birmingham)

7th Reserve. Jody Scott (unattached) 3, 0, 2, 2, 2 = 9 (after R/O)
8th   4. Ben Trigger (Plymouth Centurions) 2 3 2 1 0 = 8
9th   5. Nathan Ablitt (Poole Pirates and Belle Vue Colts) M 2 2 2 1 = 7
10th  8. Jacob Fellows (Birmingham Bulls) 1 1 1 1 2 = 6 
11th  1. Vinnie Foord (Leicester Cubs) 0 1 1 2 EF = 4
11th  7. James Laker (Sittingbourne Crusaders) 2 0 1 0 1 = 4
11th 12. Kai Ward (Kings Lynn Lightning) 0 2 1 1 FX = 4
14th 15. Alex Goldsborough (unattached) 2 1 FX withdrawn injured = 3
15th 16. Kyran Lyden (Redcar Cubs) - withdrawn injured = 0
15th 13. Mickie Simpson (Leicester Cubs) FX withdrawn injured = 0
15th  6. William Richardson (unattached) NS withdrawn injured = 0

Heat Details

1 Edwards, Trigger, H. McGurk, Foord 51.2
2 (rerun twice) Scott, Laker, Fellows, Ablitt (Exc. 2m, Richardson (inj. NS) 53.8
3 Atkins, Hagon, S. McGurk, Ward 53.1
4 (rerun) Bickley, Goldsborough, Lyden (injured - NS), Simpson (fell exc.) 53.1
5 S. McGurk, Ablitt, Foord (three riders only) 52.5
6 Edwards, Bickley, Hagon, Scott 52.1
7 Atkins, H. McGurk, Goldsborough, Laker 53.0
8 Trigger, Ward, Fellows (three rider only) 53.6
9 Atkins, Scott, Foord (three riders only) 52.5
10 (rerun) Edwards, Ablitt, Ward, Goldsborough (fell exc.) 52.3
11 (rerun) Bickley, S. McGurk, Fellows, H. McGurk (fell exc.) 52.8
12 Hagon, Trigger, Laker (fell rem.) (three riders only) 54.4
13 Bickley, Foord, Ward, Laker 53.0
14 Edwards, Atkins, Fellows (three riders only) 52.7 
15 H. McGurk, Ablitt, Hagon (three riders only) 54.0
16 S. McGurk, Scott, Trigger, Goldsborough (three riders only) 53.8
17 Hagon, Fellows, Foord (EF ret.) (three riders only) 54.1
18 Edwards, S. McGurk, Laker (three riders only) 53.5
19 (awarded) H. McGurk, Scott, Ward (fell exc.) (three riders only) no time
20 Bickley, Atkins, Ablitt, Trigger 53.8

Race off for last qualifying position: H. McGurk, Scott 53.6