Nathan Ablitt has signed for the Eastbourne HG Aerospace Eagles.
The 16-year-old lives in Hailsham and will be a familiar face to many Eastbourne fans who have seen him on track at the Arlington Stadium circuit.
Nathan has been riding speedway since he was aged four and was British Youth 150cc champion in 2016 and two years later was crowned British Youth 250cc champion.
He was due to ride this season for Mildenhall in the National Development League (NDL) but all UK league speedway has been cancelled because of Covid-19.
Last year, Nathan made his NDL debut with Kent but his time with the Sittingbourne-based outfit was cut short through injury.
Nathan said: “I grew up watching speedway and I have supported Eastbourne since a very young age. That was in the Elite League and ever since then I have wanted to be part of it.
“I never thought I really would be.
“Now, I am really excited.”
He was relishing riding for Mildenhall but accepts the Cornavirus pandemic has put that on hold for this year.
“It’s a shame. I was looking forward to it and progressing but the decision [to cancel league racing] is totally understandable,” he said.
Nathan comes from a motor-cycling family; many were motocross exponents while his dad, Nic, was a grass-tracker.
Nathan, who goes to Bexhill College in September, was invited last month by Eastbourne Speedway to take part in their closed session at King’s Lynn Speedway.
Eastbourne promoter, Trevor Geer, who completed the signing at the weekend, said:
“I’ve watched Nathan’s career from an early age and when he won the British 250cc Youth Title in 2018 he showed everyone how good a Speedway rider he can become.
“He is locally based and has always been popular with the supporters.
“We will give him all the track time and technical assistance we can and also time to develop in the NDL and hopefully we will have a chance to promote Nathan to the Championship team when the time is right for him and us.”
Eastbourne Speedway Director, Ian Jordan, commented:
“I’m delighted that Nathan and his dad Nic have agreed to join us as a full asset.
“When I first came back down to Arlington in June 2018 after many years, I remember watching Nathan riding round on his 250cc bike and being very impressed.
“When I spoke to Martin (Dugard) towards the end of the 2018 season, Nathan was one of a few riders we discussed for the 2019 NDL season who were turning 15, however, the move up to the Championship meant that we could not accommodate Nathan last year.
“Nathan signed for Kent in the NDL as a free agent and showed some excellent form before a serious crash.
“I’ve spoken to a few NDL Promoters who were very impressed with his early season form.
“Nathan signed a similar deal for Mildenhall in the NDL this season (2020), and as he didn’t have quite enough matches in the League in 2019 to qualify for a proper average, was regarded by almost everyone in the sport as a steal on a 3-point average.
“We are beyond delighted that Nathan has chosen to join Eastbourne HG Aerospace Eagles as a full asset of the Club.
“We have agreed with Nathan and his dad and Mildenhall that Nathan will return there in the NDL in 2021.
“They are an excellent and professional Club who will look after him very well.
“Where possible we will integrate Nathan into all of our Championship team bonding and other social activities, and subject to Mildenhall fixtures, which we will grant priority, should we have to utilise Rider Replacement facilities at any time in 2021, Nathan will fill the No 8 role, as our Official No 8.”
Jordan said the Management and Directors of Eastbourne HG Aerospace Eagles were determined to rebuild the kind of “conveyor belt developing British riders” that the Club was famous for in the 1970s under the Dugard and Lanning family eras.
“Nathan is a perfect fit, still only 16, has huge potential, locally based in Hailsham and is keen to follow Tom, Jason and Drew in an upward trajectory within the Sport.
“Our motto will be patience and loyalty, development and aspiration,” Jordan said.
The Club remains hopeful of seeing some form of Speedway activity in 2020 and cannot wait for 2021 and hopefully a full and exciting period to look forwards to, on and off the track.
Main image credit: Mike Hinves