Jake Knight is heading back to Eastbourne Speedway to spearhead the Arlington outfit’s National Development League (NDL) team.
He was a popular member of the club when the Eagles rode solely in the NDL and now he’s back at the dawn of a new era.
Knight said: “It was weird when I came to ride for Eastbourne for the first time.
“I had been at King’s Lynn for so many years before but when I arrived at Arlington it was like going to my second home.
“Everyone was so welcoming. The fans are brilliant.
“It was a special time and I said the only place I would go back to if started riding again would be Eastbourne.”
Knight rode last September for a victorious Eastbourne select in a three-team tournament at Plymouth.
“That was only the fifth or sixth time I had been on a speedway bike in the last three years,” he said.
Knight scored 9+2 from five rides.
Eastbourne HG Aerospace Eagles director, Ian Jordan, said: “We’re delighted to welcome Jake back into the new Seagulls NDL Team for 2021 season. There was a feeling of ‘unfinished business’ and disappointment from many supporters I’ve spoken to, after Jake was not retained after the 2017 NDL season.
“We tried to include Jake in the Championship team during our injury and suspension crisis at reserve at the tail end of the 2019 season, but we weren’t allowed to include him at the time.
“We hope to give Jake the base to progress to a permanent Championship place, and to make up for three years lost, through no fault of his own, to restart the development of his career.
“That’s what this League is all about, development of unfulfilled potential.
“We promised Jake in 2019 that if an opportunity arose we’d love to have him back and I’m delighted that he has agreed to spearhead the Seagulls team.
“His performance at Plymouth after three seasons out last September was frankly jaw dropping, against the very best of the NDL talent there that night.
“The new 35-point limit has not been welcomed by all, but you have to work with what you are given and Jake will give us an out-and-out number 1, and the rest of the side will be a blend of raw young talent, nicely developing talent and some exciting experience, and I believe that three of the team can genuinely look to put up to three points or more on to their starting average.
“We’ll be announcing some more team members on Friday and the following week.
Eastbourne NDL team to be Seagulls
The new Eastbourne Speedway National Development League (NDL) team will be known as the Seagulls.
It is the same name as the more junior MSDL level team.
Both teams will be partnered by the “Save Thurrock Hammers Speedway” campaign, which is determined to return competitive Speedway to Essex as soon as possible.
The name Eagles is, of course, retained for Eastbourne’s senior Championship team.
Eastbourne director, Ian Jordan, said: “The Seagulls branding will both further support and publicise the Thurrock Hammers campaign and also act as a clear indication of our determination and plan to be at the forefront of the development of young British riders from youth to junior to development and then hopefully to the Club’s flagship Eastbourne HG Aerospace Eagles professional Championship-level team.
“The HG Aerospace Eagles remain the only ‘all-British Team’ in the professional tiers of the sport, having been an all -British side since the Club’s elevation back to the professional tiers of the sport at the start of the 2019 season.
“This followed four highly successful years at NDL level under the management of Martin and Connor Dugard, which laid the foundations for the current direction of the club.”
Eastbourne have begun revealing the names of the NDL team which has begun today with Jake Knight being named No 1.
Further signings are scheduled for Friday and in the following week. The Junior Seagulls at MSDL level will seek fixtures against similar graded teams throughout 2021.
There are plans also to reintroduce NDL / Junior level “second-half racing” with four or five additional individual races planned after Championship League meetings; with a season-long competition featuring some of the Club and sport’s brightest young prospects, in “Junior Dash” races.
Further news and plans for Championship, National Development League and junior level racing will follow and the club can also announce that they have applied to stage a round of the British GB Youth Series in 2021; further evidencing their full support of young rider development.
Image credits: Mike Hinves / Tiffani Graveling Photography