LEICESTER’S away league campaign got underway with a 51-33 defeat at Belle Vue in a meeting which was curtailed one race short due to persistent rain.

The Watling JCB Lions struggled to adapt to conditions on a tough night for all concerned, and they were able to provide only three race winners at the National Speedway Stadium.

There were also a succession of mechanical issues with Drew Kemp spectacularly throwing a chain in Heat 12 whilst both Sam Masters and Luke Becker hit trouble during the evening.

The early races were staged in dry but very grippy conditions with gating of paramount importance, and the Aces’ ultra-fast top two of Brady Kurtz and Dan Bewley were backed up by a super showing from Norick Blodorn at No.2.

It also proved a good coin toss for the home side to win as Lions skipper Max Fricke was squeezed out on the first bend of Heat 1 from the outside as Kurtz and Blodorn raced to the first of two 5-1s as a pairing.

There were encouraging signs for the Lions with Kemp riding strongly to win Heat 2 whilst Joe Thomspon held off Connor Bailey in determined fashion for third place, and Masters got the better of Ben Cook in the early stages of Heat 3 to put a race win on the board.

Ryan Douglas had to come from the back in Heat 4, snatching second place from Bailey on the outside with a brave move, and at the halfway stage the Lions were at least pegging the Aces to a six-point advantage.

But as drizzle intensified into steady rain, the Aces began to exert full control, and as Blodorn defeated Richard Lawson in Heat 8, Bailey re-passed Thompson on the last bend for a 4-2.

A tactical substitute ride for Masters in Heat 9 was negated by a fast-gating Ben Cook who protected a 3-3, before the home side took the next three races by a 14-4 margin.

There were 5-1s to Belle Vue in Heats 10 and 12 with both Kemp and Masters having mechanical trouble in the latter, Masters getting around for a point, whilst in Heat 11 Fricke was taken wide by Bewley on the first bend before racing back past Connor Mountain for second place.

Bewley’s unbeaten run ended in Heat 13 as Fricke blocked his outside run enabling Douglas to come through for a 3-3, but there was no stopping the unbeaten Kurtz up front.

And Heat 14 was also shared as conditions became so bad that riders at the back were removing their goggles, whilst Becker took some consolation with a race win over Mountain, with a halt then being called one race short.

Lions manager Stewart Dickson said: “Conditions were the same for both teams, and Belle Vue rolled up their sleeves in mid-meeting and got on with it.

“They were making gates on us, it was tough to pass out there, and the racing wasn’t the exceptional standard that you normally get at this track.

“It’s disappointing because I thought it looked a good fixture on paper, but the better team won. We weren’t making starts, and unfortunately we got a heavy defeat. The home team managed to adapt to conditions a bit better than what we did.”

The Lions will look to put a forgettable night in Manchester quickly behind them when they host champions Sheffield in a big ROWE Motor Oil Premiership clash at the Pidcock Motorcycles Arena, Beaumont Park on Thursday.

BELLE VUE 51: Brady Kurtz 11+1, Norick Blodorn 9+1, Dan Bewley 9, Jaimon Lidsey 6+2, Ben Cook 6+1, Connor Mountain 5, Connor Bailey 5.
LEICESTER 33: Ryan Douglas 8, Sam Masters 7+1,  Luke Becker 5+1, Richard Lawson 5, Max Fricke 4+2, Drew Kemp 3, Joe Thompson 1.Abandoned after Heat 14 – Track waterlogged – Result Stands


1 BLODORN 59.34 Kurtz, Lawson, Fricke (5-1)

2 KEMP 60.76 Mountain, Thompson, Bailey (7-5)

3 MASTERS 60.49 Cook, Lidsey, Becker (ret) (10-8)

4 BEWLEY 58.81 Douglas, Bailey, Thompson (14-10)

5 LIDSEY 59.73 Lawson, Fricke, Cook (17-13)

6 KURTZ 59.61 Douglas, Blodorn, Kemp (21-15)

7 BEWLEY 59.96 Masters, Becker, Mountain (24-18)

8 BLODORN 61.24 Lawson, Bailey, Thompson (28-20)

9 COOK 61.21 Douglas, Masters, Lidsey (31-23)

10 KURTZ 62.64 Blodorn, Becker, Masters (36-24)

11 BEWLEY 63.22 Fricke, Mountain, Lawson (40-26)

12 BAILEY 65.40 Lidsey, Masters, Kemp (ret) (45-27)

13 KURTZ 63.34 Douglas, Fricke, Bewley (48-30)

14 BECKER 66.70 Mountain, Cook, Kemp (51-33)

Photo credit: IAN CHARLES

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May 19, 2024

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