It may have been a long wait for the ‘KJM/Manchetts’ Fen Tigers to start their 2018 season, but as the saying goes ‘good things come to those who wait as they scorched to two sensational away victories to open their National Trophy defence.

First night nerves certainly did not affect the Fen Tiger ‘Young Guns’ as they eased their way into the meeting on the Isle of Wight before crushing the home side in the closing five races with four 5-1’s and a 4-2 to finish 59-31 victors.

New No 1 Josh Bailey set a marker in heat one with a pillar to post victory with ‘comeback kid’ Sam Bebee tucking in for third. Heat two saw 15 year old starlet Drew Kemp post the first of five high class wins and with Matt Marson in third the Fen Tigers took an early four point advantage. Three shared heats followed before Kemp combined with Danny Ayres for a comfortable 5-1 to double the lead. After another drawn heat Kemp then stalked the Warriors Chris Widman for three laps before executing a composed and classy pass to claim his third win of the meeting. Heat eleven saw the teenager out again this time linking up with Bailey for another 5-1, before coming out in heat twelve with Captain Jordan Jenkins for a second consecutive 5-1 as the Fen Tigers really turned up the heat.

With the meeting won there was no easing off as Bailey produced a stunning ride from the back to pass both Baseby and Hopwood around the outside of the third and fourth bend in heat thirteen, while the crowd held their breath, to join Danny Ayres for another 5-1! Heat fourteen saw Ryan Kinsley join the party as he chased Verge before blasting round him off the final bend for a fine win. There was still one more race to enjoy as again Bailey missed the gate before flying round the outside of Baseby and Hopwood again to join Ayres for a fifth 5-1 to complete the evening on a high.

The following night the Fen Tigers arrived at the St Boniface Arena expecting a battle against the Plymouth ‘Devils’ but with spirits and confidence high the Fen Tigers carried on from where they left off the previous evening hitting the ‘Devils’ hard and early. A super fast start from Bebee saw him in control of the race before Bailey joined him with a sweet pass of Terry-Daley and Roynon for an opening 5-1. Kemp was slightly slow off the gate in heat two but was soon in command of proceedings as he raced to a fine win. A classy ride from Jenkins saw him win heat three with Kinsley in third after being clattered after Bradley Andrews fell in front of him. Kemp and Ayres combined for a composed 5-1 in heat four to extend the Fen Tigers lead to 12 points after only four heats. Wins for Ayres, Jenkins and Kemp in heats six to eight saw the Fen Tigers 14 points up at the midway point, before Ayes won heat nine from Atkins.

With Kinsley still feeling the effects from his earlier crash, Kemp took his place in heat ten and the youngster stormed clear of Plymouth No 1 Roynon for a comprehensive win. Bebee who had taken a knock after a fall in heat eight decided to sit out his final ride and Kemp stepped in again this time lining up with Bailey for a fine 5-1 over Cockle. The Fen Tigers were now eighteen ahead but showing no sign of easing off as Jenkins produced a high class piece of overtaking to defeat Atkins, before Ayres and Bailey linked up for a stunning 5-1 as they left Roynon chasing shadows back in third. Kemp completed an incredible six ride paid maximum in heat fourteen and with Kinsley looking good behind him it was another 5-1 for the Fen Tigers. Heat fifteen saw Ayres in no mood to give his maximum as he chased down Roynon before blasting past him, Bailey was chasing hard too and failed by the smallest distance to overcome Roynon on the line as the Fen Tigers competed a 61-29 win.

Club promoter Kevin Jolly couldn’t hide his pleasure as his sides opening performances, he said “It is of course very early days but we must be pleased with what the lads have achieved in these two meetings. They came into both meetings without too much action but it certainly didn’t show and I was highly impressed by the skill, determination and will to win. Even when it may have been easy to ease off a little they kept pushing on for more points. Although it has been difficult for the club having no home meetings starting off on an away tour has given the lads time together and it is great to see how they have bonded so quickly. We met for a bite to eat and drink after the Isle of Wight meeting and the lads met for an afternoons karting before Plymouth and you could see the banter and spirit amongst them when we arrived at Plymouth, it was all very positive.

We have two difficult meetings coming up at home to Kent tomorrow before heading off to Birmingham in the KOC on Wednesday and must keep our focus, which I am sure this group will do such is their hunger”

Scorecards:

Isle of Wight Warriors 31
Campos 8 (4 rides), Hopwood 8 (5), Baseby 6 (5), Verge 4+2 (4), Widman 3 (4), Portwood 2 (4) and Tedham 0 (4)

‘KJM/Manchetts’ Fen Tigers 59
Kemp 15 (5 rides), Bailey 13+2 (5), Ayres 12+2 (5), Kinsley 7+2 (4), Jenkins 7+2 (4), Marson 3+1 (4) and Bebee 2 (3)

Plymouth Devils 29
Atkins 9 (5 rides), Roynon 7 (5), Terry-Daley 4+1 (4), R Andrews 4+1 (5), Cockle 4 (4), B Andrews 1+1 (4) and Leek 0 (3)

‘KJM/Manchetts’ Fen Tigers 61
Kemp 17+1 (6 rides), Ayres 13+2 (5), Bailey 10+2 (5), Jenkins 10 (4), Bebee 5 (3), Kinsley 4+1 (3) and Marson 2 (4)