28 June 2022
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Visitors Mildenhall will again use Danny Phillips’ track knowledge as they prepare for what many consider to be a dry-run for the 2022 battle for silverware with the Grant Henderson Tankers Berwick Bullets.
Berwick asset but Armadale Devil Phillips was the original National Development League track record holder at Shielfield Park. Last season he guested in place of Jason Edwards – who was on Championship duty with Eastbourne – on Saturday he will line up alongside the Redcar Bear.
Edwards is one of the Championship’s hottest young British stars at the moment with a string of big scores for Redcar and as the guest of choice for a number of sides, including a match-winning performance for Leicester against Berwick’s Bandits two weeks ago.
Phillips replaces James Shanes – signed by the defending NDL champions to replace the injured Ryan Kinsey – who is racing in the opening Longtrack GP in Poland alongside Bandits’ duo Chris Harris and Theo Pijper.
The Middlesbrough-born Devil’s track record at Shielfield has twice been lowered by Bullets’ skipper Kyle Bickley who, earlier this week, was replaced in Berwick’s Championship side.
Bullets’ coach Kevin Little, who hopes to have recovered from a bout of Covid to take his place in the pits on Saturday, admitted: “It hasn’t been the usual build-up to a meeting that’s for sure.
“I can empathise with both Kyle and the club but with Berwick running two teams he has found himself in a unique situation.
“Once race night comes around he can concentrate on racing, the rest will take care of itself.”
The battles between Bickley and Edwards are eagerly awaited and promise to be the highlight of what should be a close-fought encounter.
In contrast to his patchy Championship form Bickley has enjoyed a phenomenal season with the table-topping Bullets, dropping just seven points to an opponent in five home meetings and scoring maximums against Belle Vue and Armadale in addition to lowering his own track record to 66.6 seconds.
The Bullets’ success this season has been based on solid scoring throughout the team with 15-year-old Ace Pijper, eldest son of Theo, enjoying an incredible start to his professional career, averaging over seven points after six meetings despite moving into the main body of the side.
Luke Crang and the charismatic Greg Blair – who guests FOR the Tigers at Armadale on Friday night – have given strong support to their captain while Berwick-born Mason Watson has also successfully made the step up from reserve in only his second season of team racing.
Little, who famously rode for all six northern and Scottish clubs, including two spells with Berwick, over two decades added: “It’s no secret that the Bullets have some big characters and get a lot of enjoyment out of their speedway but I think that might hide one of the big reasons for their success over the past two seasons.
“They turn up ready to race, don’t suffer many mechanical breakdowns and there aren’t bits of bikes or silencers dropping off during races. That’s not good luck it’s down to the work the lads are doing away from the track.
“They are working hard, putting in the hours during the week, in short earning the right to enjoy themselves when the racing begins and reaping the benefits.
“All seven riders are progressing, chipping away and earning their success through hard work and commitment to the cause.”
As with all Bullets’ standalone meetings the Berwick promotion has pegged admission at £10. Accompanied children are admitted free of charge on tickets booked online from berwickspeedway.com/tickets
Gates open at 6pm on Saturday with the racing starting at 7pm.
Grant Henderson Tankers Berwick Bullets: Kyle Bickley, Mason Watson, Ace Pijper, Greg Blair, Luke Crang, Kieran Douglas, Ben Rathbone.
Mildenhall Manchett’s Rescue and Recovery Fen Tigers: Jason Edwards, Sam Bebee, Jack Kingston, Alex Spooner, Danny Phillips, Josh Warren, Luke Muff