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Mildenhall Fen Tigers new signing James Shanes keen to put his experience to good use

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James Shanes hopes he can put his experience to good use by making an impact on both the track and in the pits during his Mildenhall Fen Tigers debut against the Leicester Lion Cubs in the National Development League (NDL) tomorrow (7pm).

The 25-year-old has been drafted in as injury replacement cover for Fen Tigers captain – and number one – Ryan Kinsley, who sustained a collarbone problem during their clash with the Plymouth Centurions, which was rained off after seven heats on Sunday.

It will be the first time since 2018 that Shanes has appeared in the NDL– a season which saw him score 135 points from 11 appearances.

James Shanes has joined the Fen Tigers to cover Ryan Kinsley's injury absence
James Shanes has joined the Fen Tigers to cover Ryan Kinsley's injury absence

“I’m definitely excited about joining Mildenhall as it feels like I’m going back to my roots,” said Shanes, who is based in Holywell Row.

“It has been a long time since I’ve ridden in the National Development League but it’s full of people who want to achieve more and there is always a good buzz going on.

“I know the club well as my father-in-law is part of the club so most weeks I’m there helping mechanic for someone or just having a watch.

“They are great fans at Mildenhall and make me welcome every time I turn up there and I’ve had some good meetings when I’ve ridden there before. It is great that I can help Mildenhall out in what has turned into a problematic period for them.”

While Shanes admits the Paul Chapman & Sons Arena has not been a ‘happy hunting’ ground in recent seasons, he believes the Fen Tigers could easily replicate the 45-45 draw they secured in the same fixture 12 months ago.

He added: “Leicester has probably not been the best track for me and it hasn’t been the happiest of hunting grounds. It is definitely a track I need to work on but this will be a great opportunity to get some more practice around there.

“Joe and Dan Thompson are no slouches around there as they have done hundreds of laps.

“Hopefully I can pass on some of my experience and knowledge, both on the bike and in the pits to get the team going.

“Leicester are going to be without Max Perry at reserve so they will be slightly weaker.

“If we get a losing bonus point or a draw that would be great but if we could walk away with a win that will give the team and fans an amazing kick to push on for the season.”

Meanwhile, Fen Tigers joint manager Malcolm Vasey hailed his side’s response to losing Kinsley and Sam Bebee in heat one following an incident with former Fen Tigers captain Jordan Jenkins at the weekend after racing into a 31-10 lead before the weather took hold.

He said: “It was extremely frustrating on Sunday to lose two riders in those circumstances in heat one but then we wiped the floor with Plymouth in the seven heats we had.

“I was proud of every one of them. They were obviously aggrieved and saddened but they did not sit still as you saw by the result.

“For Josh (Warren) and Luke (Muff) to score back-to-back 5-1s in heats one and two was unbelievable.

“It was a shame we couldn’t finish the meeting as they really did turn an amazing setback into an absolute triumph.”

In addition to signing Shanes, the Fen Tigers will be utilising the rider replacement facility to cover for Bebee on Saturday, while Jason Edwards will step into the role of team captain.