Eastbourne Seagulls new signing has every reason to be delighted that Arlington will be his new home track

Henry Atkins has every reason to be delighted that Arlington will be his new home track in the National Development League (NDL).

Tuesday, 16th March 2021, 12:27 pm
Updated Tuesday, 16th March 2021, 7:16 pm
Henry Atkins

Atkins is the latest signing for the Eastbourne Seagulls squad, powered by Save Thurrock Hammers.

He has fond memories of Eastbourne’s Arlington track because that is where he was crowned British 125cc champion in September 2011.

Atkins, 20, who lives in Exeter, will also ride for Plymouth in the Championship and is delighted to be “keeping busy” by riding in two leagues.

He said he was looking forward to coming to Eastbourne and again linking with Richard Andrews, who he rode with at Plymouth last year.

“I know Arlington is a technical track but being down at Plymouth, which is small, everything should be fine.

“We just need to get the bike geared up for the track.”

Atkins has not ridden frequently at Arlington but added: “I have really good memories of Arlington because of my 125cc British Championship win.

“I haven’t been there too often really, at least on a 500cc, so it will be good to get used to the track.

“I am looking forward for a new challenge.”

Atkins is looking to up his starting average and get a few maximums.

“I think my average is a bit of false one really,” he said.

Club director Ian Jordan commented: “Henry could be one of, if not the most under-rated rider with a couple of seasons’ NDL experience, in terms of his average.

“He impressed everyone in 2017 and 2018; improving his average in the process and showing the form and promise that saw him win numerous age group titles on the grass and on shale too.

“Those Eastbourne fans who watched the Eagles at Somerset on a couple of occasions in 2019 will have seen Henry compete with and beat Eagles own young Star Tom Brennan and also some of our experienced NDL second string riders like Ben Morley, Georgie Wood and Alfie Bowtell.

“Sadly, in the second of those matches Henry dislocated his shoulder and the injury was slow to heal and Somerset decided to change their top five during this period, which meant Henry was the unfortunate victim of the average game in the Championship.

“He remains a Somerset asset and we are very thankful for their permission to use Henry in an agreement brokered by Henry's dad, Mike Atkins.”

During the winter of 2019 / 2020 Henry undertook a rigorous training and nutrition programme linked to some amateur boxing events in which he took part.

In a couple of fixtures at Plymouth in September last year he scored heavily in the 3 Team Tournament including an Eagles Select and a team from the Isle of Wight.

He then went on to score an outstanding 15 point maximum in a Challenge match between Plymouth Gladiators and a Team GB Under 21 Select Team, beating the cream of Young British talent on show including Tom Brennan, Jordan Palin and the Thompson Twins.

“Atkins will line up for the Plymouth Gladiators in the 2021 Championship, forming a potent reserve partnership with Alfie Bowtell and we are delighted to welcome him at Arlington as a key figure in the Seagulls team riding as one of three Heat Leaders with Jake Knight and Richard Andrews,” Jordan said.

“We believe that with good fortune he can achieve a season average of at least 8 points per match at NDL level.

“Henry is our only doubling up CL rider, meaning he may miss some Seagulls NDL matches due to prior CL and other commitments; but we are working hard to ensure that fixture clashes between Henry's Championship and NDL commitments are kept to a minimum.

“We also expect to see Henry riding in some of the most prestigious Grass Track Meetings in the UK and also possibly break into the Team Under 23 GB set up, which his undoubted talent deserves.”

The signing of Atkins comes during an extremely busy spell for Eastbourne Speedway.

As well as finalising the NDL team, the club is making preparations for the start of the 2021 season in May.

Matches will be all ticket, booked and paid for in advance online. There will be no cash/card admissions on the day.

This is to ensure Arlington Stadium meets all Covid-19 rules.

Tickets are now selling for the opening two home matches against Newcastle and then Poole. They are available via the club website.

*The Eagles have now named Jake Knight, Richard Andrews, Nathan Ablitt, Chad Wirtzfeld, Connor King and Henry Atkins for their NDL Squad and will complete the squad announcements in the coming week; including some additional riders who they hope to have on the periphery of their junior teams.