Saturday March 30, 2019
LEICESTER sent out a serious statement of intent with an emphatic 57-33 win over Redcar in their Championship Shield opener.

Winter signing Richie Worrall roared to a blistering 15-point maximum as the Watling JCB Lions made light of what was expected to be a tough test against the Bears, providing 12 of the 15 heat wins in front of another excellent Saturday night crowd.

The only setback came when Australian star Ryan Douglas crashed out of the meeting in his second ride, but early indications are that he has escaped with bruising only.

And with Worrall backed up by double-figure contributions from skipper Scott Nicholls and Josh Bates, and encouraging displays right down the order, the home side had more than enough to cover.

Former Lion Charles Wright offered the greatest threat for the visitors, and Tom Bacon rode well to win Heat 1 over Nicholls – but their No.1 Michael Palm Toft had a nightmare meeting, only scoring when Douglas came to grief in Heat 5.

Palm Toft came to a halt when on a 5-1 with Bacon in Heat 1, but the Lions immediately hit the Bears with two maximums of their own as Jack Thomas and Connor Mountain took the honours in the reserves’ race, and a thrilling Heat 3 saw Douglas steam inside early leader Jordan Stewart whilst Bates pounced to snatch second place on the line.

The duo looked set to perform similar heroics in Heat 5 as Bates rounded Bacon to lead – but disaster struck as Douglas tried to repeat the move on turn four only to fall heavily.

Wins for Nicholls and Worrall, though, kept the ball rolling, whilst Ellis Perks and Mountain extended the lead to 16-points with a 5-1 in Heat 8.

Wright ended Bates’s unbeaten run in Heat 9 but Lions put a full lock on the points with maximums in the next two races as Perks completed an excellent display by combining with Nicholls over Bears captain Ben Barker, and then Worrall and Mountain teamed up over Bacon, with Palm Toft again failing to finish.

The visitors gained brief consolation when Bates was left at the start in Heat 12 and couldn’t quite split Wright and Barker, but that 5-1 was immediately cancelled out by Worrall and Nicholls in Heat 13 as Wright could find no way through.

Another 5-1 could well have followed in Heat 14 only for the unlucky Thomas to suffer bike problems on the back straight after leading from the start, leaving Bates to collect his second win of the night.

Worrall faced his toughest challenge in Heat 15 as a fired-up Wright made it past Nicholls into second place, but the Leicester man held his nerve and rode all the right lines to complete his full house.

Lions boss Stewart Dickson said: “The plan is for us to be formidable at home. You’ve got to win your home matches, and that also gives the guys confidence when they go away, if they’re winning races at home.

“Richie is now dialled in, I knew that would happen, and to get 57 points in our first home match is better than I was expecting.

“I was looking at hopefully winning by 10-12 points so obviously I’m excited by the result, but we can’t get carried away just yet because there’s a long way to go. It’s a very promising start, though, and it’s how I pictured we would be – although maybe not as good as that!

“Our reserves are doing what I fully expect them to do to opposition reserves, and I was also very pleased for Ellis. I brought him in on Friday to get some laps because he was very down after Thursday at Ipswich, and for him to finish with a win and a paid win was excellent.

“I put a bit of extra dirt on the track, and maybe it was a little too much although I’m still learning about the track, and I thought it rode well after about Heat 6.

“Ryan’s crash really was the only blot on the night otherwise it would have been perfect. I spoke to the paramedic and it looks like he’s just winded and bruised – that crash was a shame, but the rest of the guys really stepped up.”

Leicester return to action next weekend with a double Shield clash against Scunthorpe, visiting the Eddie Wright Raceway on Friday and then hosting the Scorpions next Saturday (April 6).

LEICESTER 57: Richie Worrall 15, Scott Nicholls 11+1, Josh Bates 11+1, Connor Mountain 7+3, Ellis Perks 7+2, Ryan Douglas 3, Jack Thomas 3.
REDCAR 33: Charles Wright 13, Tom Bacon 6, Ben Barker 5+1, Jordan Stewart 4+1, Nathan Greaves 3, Michael Palm Toft 1+1, Jack Smith 1+1.

Picture: MARK HALL

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