Jordan Jenkins confident the Mildenhall Fen Tigers can battle for National Development League honours
Jordan Jenkins wants to make this year his last in the National Development League – by helping to turn the Mildenhall Fen Tigers into title contenders following his return to the club, writes Graham Clark.
With last season’s domestic campaign cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 19-year-old will link back up with the West Row-based outfit, where he started his career in 2016, having spent the 2019 campaign with third tier rivals Kent.
The Norwich-based rider, who will double up racing for the Fen Tigers with the Redcar Bears in the Championship, is one of three changes made by the club’s promotion to the side they had intended to put out last year following the points limit reduction from 39 to 35.
Out have gone Ryan Kinsley, Matt Marson and Nathan Ablitt, with the trio replaced by Jenkins, Sam Hagon and Arran Butcher, all of whom will join Jason Edwards, Luke Ruddick, Elliot Kelly and Sam Bebee from the proposed 2020 team.
“I’m over the moon to be back and I can’t wait to get started. If we can hit the ground running and all stay injury free then I see no reason why we can’t be title contenders,” said Jenkins.
“This was something I wanted to do last season as my dream clubs to ride for would have been Redcar and Mildenhall. I got Redcar sorted then Mildenhall fell through at the last minute but when I got the call from Lee (Chipchase, commercial manager) this year I was delighted.
“I want to make sure this is my last year in the National League and say that I have completed it. I’m not satisfied with what I have done so far and until I’ve done that it wouldn’t be fair on myself to move on.
“At the end of the day I have to do what is right for me and this takes the pressure off me a bit as it will allow me to work as well as race, while I get on well with the track at Mildenhall and I think that will help me progress.”
After making a flying start to the 2018 season, Jenkins’ form took a dip on his return from a spell out with a broken back sustained in a Knock Out Cup clash against the Birmingham Brummies in May that year.
However, the teenager is confident he is now back to his best.
“I had a really good first full season at Mildenhall and I had no real weight on my shoulders as I just went out and enjoyed myself,” added Jenkins.
“The last year I had at Mildenhall in 2018 I was in form until I broke my back and when I look back at videos I was beating the likes of Ben Morley and Georgie Wood.
“The injury messed me up more than I expected, not just physically but mentally as well. I missed a few months of the season and I put pressure on myself and I knew I could have done better. I’ve a different mindset now to the one when I left the club.
“I had a chat with myself and my grandad at the start of last year and I felt ready for it but the pandemic hit. I’ve got that hunger back now and I just want to get on the bike.”
Assessing the 2021 Fen Tigers team Jenkins, who has made 61 previous appearances for the club, scoring a total of 567 points, believes the side is well balanced, but one that is also open to plenty of progression.
“I’m happy with the team we have got. There is no eight or nine point rider in there but we have got strength and depth in there,” he said.
“I think me Jason and Luke can all be eight-and-a-half point riders and I can see Elliot putting a point or two on his average and if Sam Bebee stays injury free he will have a good run.
“There is then Arran Butcher and Sam Hagon at the bottom so everything is in place for us to have a good year.”
It was announced on Monday that the first competitive action to take place at Mildenhall Stadium this year will be the second of two British U-21 semi-finals on Sunday, June 6 (3pm).
And this will be followed on Sunday, August 22 when the West Row-based venue will host the British Under-19 final.