LEICESTER gave their season a welcome boost with a convincing 43-29 win at Birmingham to put away points on the board for the first time this year.

The Watling JCB Lions were the better side by a distance at Perry Barr and dominated the ROWE Motor Oil Premiership clash which took place in windy, showery conditions and was eventually curtailed after 12 races.

Ryan Douglas and Richard Lawson took the individual honours with both riders dropping just one point to opponents from four and three outings respectively.

But it was also a good night for the Lions reserves, who both notched seasons’ best scores with Drew Kemp collecting paid eight, whilst Joe Thompson picked up four (paid five) including a notable Heat 4 success over former Grand Prix star Piotr Pawlicki.

Douglas got the Lions off to a winning start in Heat 1 with skipper Max Fricke third for a 4-2, whilst the next two races were shared – both won by home reserve Zach Cook, who came into Heat 3 after Scott Nicholls had been disqualified for touching the tapes.

But the Lions put the meeting effectively beyond their hosts with a devastating hat-trick of 5-1s between Heats 4 and 6, starting with Thompson’s great effort to hold off Pawlicki for second place in a blanket finish behind Sam Masters.

Fricke and Douglas shot from the start in Heat 5 to leave Nicholls and Steve Worrall trailing, before Masters was joined by Kemp in the next as the Lions reserve held Tom Brennan at bay.

A fourth 5-1 was on the cards in Heat 7 but Pawlicki produced a brave ride to split Lawson and Luke Becker, although the Lions were still happy to advance their lead to 16 points.

Conditions were now deteriorating as the rain intensified and the Brummies took a 4-2 in Heat 8 as Brennan got the better of Douglas with Leon Flint third.

The home side picked up a 5-1 in Heat 9 from Worrall and Nicholls with the riders quickly moving to the outside on the wet track, and the meeting was pushed on at a pace with Lawson and Douglas winning the next two races.

Kemp and Becker then recorded an emphatic 5-1 over Worrall in Heat 12 and with the rain, which had eased for a time, returning and becoming heavy, the decision was taken to halt racing with the result standing.

Leicester manager Stewart Dickson said: “I think we began to see signs of what this team is capable of tonight.

“I know it’s only one result, and one swallow doesn’t make a summer, but there was a glimpse of what this team can do when they collectively all score.

“Any manager will tell you it’s difficult to get all seven firing, but I felt I got close to that tonight, and hopefully this is the start of things coming together.

“My riders are due credit tonight, and I certainly don’t begrudge giving them that credit -they rode extremely well.

“I think it was the right call to abandon it when we did. As the team manager who was winning I was fearful that we might not get to Heat 10 at one point, and I’m glad we didn’t just call it after 10, which speedway is in a habit of doing too often.

“But when we got the heat advantage to go 14 ahead with three to go, many of the riders came to myself or the Birmingham management and that told its own story. We did try to get it through, we want to give people their money’s worth, but it did become too tricky.”

The Lions will look to build on the result when they face another big home match at the Pidcock Motorcycles Arena, Beaumont Park on Thursday when they host Belle Vue.

BIRMINGHAM 29: Zach Cook 8, Tom Brennan 7+1, Piotr Pawlicki 4+1, Steve Worrall 4, Scott Nicholls 3+1, Vaclav Milik 2, Leon Flint 1.
LEICESTER 43: Ryan Douglas 10+1, Richard Lawson 8, Sam Masters 7, Drew Kemp 6+2, Luke Becker 4+2, Joe Thompson 4+1, Max Fricke 4.
Abandoned after Heat 12 (Rain) – Result Stands

Photo credit: STEVE FEENEY


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