LEICESTER moved up to third place in the Sports Insure Premiership with a terrific team display to defeat Ipswich 52-38 and take major points off one of their direct rivals for a play-off place.

The Watling JCB Lions raced in an early eight-point lead, doubled it by the halfway stage and then fended off a Witches comeback in the final third of the meeting to ensure the aggregate point as well as victory in the match itself.

Grand Prix star Max Fricke topped the scorechart again and was the only rider to defeat the flying Emil Sayfutdinov, who was once again great value although his fourth win in Heat 13 was somewhat fortunate as the Lions were denied the 5-1 they deserved.

And there was strength all the way down from the Lions, with Drew Kemp making an excellent guest appearance in the Rising Star berth whilst fellow reserve Jake Allen was unbeaten in three of his four rides.

Justin Sedgmen got the hosts off to a terrific opening with a trademark fast start to win Heat 1 over Ipswich No.1 Jason Doyle, with Fricke in third place, before Kemp and Allen combined for a clear 5-1 in the next.

Skipper Chris Harris charged inside opposite number Danny King on the first lap of Heat 3 to extend the lead to eight, and Sayfutdinov was headed by Nick Morris in Heat 4 until he made a stunning move to switch for the inside into the pits bend and force his way through.

But with Kemp passing Joe Thompson for third place the Lions were still in charge, although they conceded a 4-2 in Heat 5 when Richard Lawson lifted on the back straight which assisted Doyle to hit the front, with Harris quickly re-passing Ben Barker for second place.

Fricke lowered Sayfutdinov’s colours with a quality ride in Heat 6, before a dramatic seventh race saw Morris and Allen team-riding ahead of King, who came to grief at the start of the last lap as he tried to find a gap between the pair.

The race was awarded as a Lions 5-1, and another maximum followed in a re-started Heat 8 with Kemp and Sedgmen in charge after Barker had locked up on turn four and been run into by team-mate Thompson.

Lions added a further 4-2 in Heat 10 to go 18-points up, with Witches boss Ritchie Hawkins deploying Sayfutdinov for a tactical substitute outing in Heat 11.

That move initially looked set to be blocked by Morris who made a great start, but Sayfutdinov made a brutally strong pass on turn two to not only take the lead but also create the space for Doyle to follow him through for a 5-1.

King held off Lawson in Heat 12 as Ipswich took a 4-2, cutting the gap to 12 points, before a thrilling Heat 13 saw Fricke and Morris hit the front and look to team-ride out the Ipswich top two.

On turn four of lap three, Doyle ran into Morris bringing both riders down, and with Doyle disqualified there was some surprise when a re-run was ordered as this could only benefit the Witches who would have conceded a 5-1 had the race been awarded.

Sayfutdinov duly took his second chance, blasting between Fricke and Morris off turn two, but the visitors still needed two 5-1s to force a Super Heat for the aggregate point, and it was Leicester who took the maximum from Heat 14 as Allen made the start and Harris quickly cleared Keynan Rew and Danyon Hume on the first lap to join him in second place.

Sayfutdinov rounded off a sensational individual display with his fifth win in Heat 15 but Fricke went inside King off the fourth bend to prevent a consolation 5-1 for the Witches.

Leicester manager Stewart Dickson said: “I knew tonight that their top two would not go through the card, because we’re now riding a lot better.

“All in all it was a really good night, we consolidate our place in the top four and Ipswich are now five points behind us in the bottom three. Tonight was really important because there’s a little pattern beginning to emerge, with the top four separating away from the bottom three.

“We’re starting to get into the groove now. Nobody would deny that we started off quite slowly, but when you look at our scorechart tonight it was solid, even taking into account Richard had a bit an off-night by his standards.

“We can forgive him for that and the rest of the guys stepped up. Drew scored 12+2 here last season for Poole, so sometimes you pick guests wisely, but it’s the rider who has to put the performance in and he did it – he was very good.

“We got 14 points compared to their four at reserve, with Jake Allen going very well as well, so I’m very pleased overall.”

The Watling JCB Lions are back in action at the Pidcock Motorcycles Arena, Beaumont Park next Thursday (June 15) when they face league leaders Belle Vue in what promises to be another thriller.

LEICESTER 52: Max Fricke 11, Chris Harris 9+1, Jake Allen 7+2, Justin Sedgmen 7+1, Nick Morris 7+1, Drew Kemp 7+1, Richard Lawson 4+1.
IPSWICH 38: Emil Sayfutdinov 17, Jason Doyle 7+1, Danny King 6, Kenyan Rew 3, Danyon Hume 3, Ben Barker 1, Joe Thompson 1.
Leicester win the aggregate point

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May 19, 2024

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