LEICESTER took a big step towards reaching the National Development League Grand Final as they won 49-41 win at direct rivals Belle Vue on Friday.

The Lion Cubs smashed the Colts’ unbeaten home record, and in the process took a fifth successive away victory in the league to move on to 22 points in the table.

That means one more win from their last three matches should be enough, as it would mean Belle Vue could not catch them and Mildenhall could only equal their total but with currently a vastly inferior race points difference.

Max Perry led the way for the Lion Cubs with a highly impressive 12+1 haul which saw him win his opening three rides, including the opener against home captain and track specialist Jack Smith.

Meanwhile Cubs captain Joe Thompson was also paid for 13, and Max James again showed up well at reserve with Tom Spencer solid in the middle order.

Both teams were missing two of their top five at the National Speedway Stadium but the Colts were reduced to five riders on the night when Luke Muff crashed out in Heat 4 after he had been overtaken by Thompson.

The Cubs led by two points at that stage thanks to a 4-2 from James and Vinnie Foord in Heat 2, and they doubled that advantage when Perry held off the challenge of Sam McGurk for his second win in Heat 5 with guest Ben Morley in third.

And after two shared races, the visitors took a major step forward with a 5-1 in Heat 8 from Perry and James who quickly raced clear of Matt Marson.

The Colts responded with Freddy Hodder passing James in Heat 9 to salvage a 3-3, and a 5-1 from home duo Hodder and Marson in Heat 10 halved the gap to four points.

But after two more shared races, Heat 13 went crucially in the Lion Cubs’ favour as Smith fell on the third bend as he looked to make inroads on Thompson and Morley, who then had to clear a faster-starting Marson in the re-run and did so for a 5-1 to take their side to the brink of victory.

That was confirmed in a shared Heat 14 although Hodder took credit for the Colts for his efforts to beat Spencer and James, and Smith picked up his fourth win of the night in Heat 15 with Perry and Thompson seeing off the hard-trying Hodder on this occasion.

Manager Dave Howard said: “It was an eventful night, but a fantastic result for us to become the first team to win here in the NDL this year, and it was a great performance by everybody to get the win and the aggregate point.

“Max Perry had his best meeting of the season, he rode really well and was top scorer – he was outstanding, and that’s why I gave him Heat 15 as well.

“Joe’s team-riding with his team-mates was great to see, and it was also a great performance from Max James at reserve.

“Tom is still having some aching problems with his arm, but getting seven paid eight was a good performance from him too.”

BELLE VUE 41: Jack Smith 14, Freddy Hodder 10, Sam McGurk 8+3, Matt Maerson 7+2, Luke Muff 2, Jack Shimelt 0, James Pearson r/r
LEICESTER 49: Max Perry 12+1, Joe Thompson 11+2, Max James 9+3, Tom Spencer 7+1, Ben Morley 6, Vinnie Foord 2+1, Danny Phillips 2
Leicester win aggregate bonus point

Photo credit: IAN CHARLES

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