LEICESTER’S outstanding NDL season suffered a cruel conclusion as they were beaten 34-32 in their one-off Grand Final at Oxford.

And far more important than the result, the club’s thoughts are with talented teenager Max Perry who was taken to hospital with multiple injuries after a horrible first-bend crash at the start of Heat 12.

Perry has been talking to medical staff, but the initial report from his family is that he has suffered breaks to his wrist and fingers, and suspected breaks to his ribs, knee, ankle and leg.

We all send Max our very best wishes, and will update further when we have more information over the coming days.

The meeting was always set to be a race against time to beat the bad weather coming in, and with medics needing to take great care and attention over Perry after his crash, conditions worsened significantly over that period and a resumption was not possible.

With the match having gone past the cut-off of ten races to confirm a result, that meant the Chargers edged it by the narrow two-point margin they held at the time.

Prior to that, the two top sides in the league had fought out a close contest with the Oxford promotion having done well to get the track into raceable condition, although falls and mechanical issues did play a key part.

Perry had already endured a night were nothing went right, as he broke down at the start of Heat 3, fell on the first lap of Heat 7 and then suffered more trouble when he was in second place in Heat 10.

Ashton Boughen fell in Heat 1 when the Cubs had initially held a 5-1, and the race required three attempts to run before Dan Thompson defeated Jordan Jenkins in the re-run, but problems for Jason Garrad in Heat 2 enabled the visitors to take the advantage.

The lead then changed hands on three occasions, including a Cubs 5-1 from Thompson and Boughen in Heat 5, before Jenkins came from the 15-metre handicap to still win Heat 6.

The home side then lost points with issues for both Killeen and Jenkins, but they led 31-29 after Heat 10 which meant a result would certainly be declared regardless of how much more racing took place.

And as it turned out, a win for Henry Atkins over Thompson and Boughen in Heat 11 turned out to be decisive with Perry’s crash and the subsequent rainfall meaning the end of racing for the night, and the season.

The Lion Cubs therefore miss out on their ultimate target, despite winning 12 of their regular 14 NDL fixtures, and the final nine in succession – whilst the KO Cup was awarded to Mildenhall even though the Cubs won all three of their matches in that competition.

Those statistics underline what a great season Leicester’s youngsters have enjoyed, with circumstances dictating that on this occasion they do not have the silverware to show for it.

Manager Dave Howard said: “All our thoughts are with Max, and we just hope he makes a good recovery so that he can get on with his life and his career.

“He’s at the age now where he doesn’t want to be out of his education for a long time, so we hope he’s comfortable and that we get some good news from the hospital.

“Of course the result is disappointing, but I’m really proud of all the guys. One race either way and we could have been in the lead and had it gone to the end, who knows, we had Dan and Joe in Heats 13 and 15 so we could have gone on to win it.

“It’s just really disappointing with what’s happened over the last few days, to have a one-legged Final not on a neutral track, and the fact that the same thing wasn’t done for the Cup as the league, as we’d won the away leg of the Cup Final by 11 points but for some reason it was awarded to Mildenhall.

“But overall I’m thankful to all the riders for what they’ve done again this year. Thanks to Dan and Joe for all they’ve done since we started in 2019, and all the others who have been so good to work with – Tom (Spencer) for three years, Max and Vinnie (Foord) in the last two seasons and then Max James and Ashton.

“We deserved to win things again, but I’m very proud of what the Cubs have achieved in the last four seasons, and a big thanks also to the supporters.”

OXFORD 34: Ryan Kinsley 8+1, Henry Atkins 7+1, Jordan Jenkins 6, Jody Scott 5, Luke killeen 3+1, Jacob Clouting 3, Jason Garrad 2
LEICESTER 32: Dan Thompson 8, Joe Thompson 8, Tom Spencer 5, Ashton Boughen 4+3, Vinnie Foord 4, Max James 3, Max Perry 0
Abandoned after 11 heats due to heavy rain - Result STANDS

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