LEICESTER produced their best performance of the season to defeat Midlands rivals Wolverhampton 49-41 at the Pidcock Motorcycles Arena, Beaumont Park.

The Watling JCB Lions always expected a tough test against a Wolves side packed with track specialists, but they came through with an impressive all-round team display.

And the big highlight was a top-class performance from No.1 Max Fricke who showed clear signs of the form which made him into a Grand Prix rider, with some thrilling action especially in the latter stages of the meeting.

Fricke’s combination with Justin Sedgmen was key to the victory as the two Australians combined for a pair of crucial 5-1s, but this was a meeting where all of the Lions played their part.

Youngster Dan Thompson only picked up one point but it was a battling effort in Heat 2 after he had nearly ended up in the fence on the fourth bend, dropping to the back before reeling in and passing Zach Cook on the line.

Richard Lawson and skipper Chris Harris recorded the first 5-1 of the night in Heat 3 with Lawson blocking the outside run of Ryan Douglas as Harris came through on the inside.

Wolves hit back from an early six-point deficit to level up with a 5-1 from Sam Masters and Steve Worrall in Heat 5, but the Lions responded immediately as Fricke and Sedgmen combined to squeeze out former club captain Scott Nicholls.

The mid-stage of the meeting were tense as the gap was just two points, before Fricke and Sedgmen provided further breathing space in Heat 10, Fricke getting the better of Douglas in a tight scrap in the early stages.

Wolves captain Masters reeled off his third win of the night by re-passing Nick Morris off the fourth bend in Heat 11, and was then brought into Heat 12 for a tactical substitute outing – but with the pressure on, Lawson held his nerve with a superb ride to defeat both the visitors’ No.1 and Rory Schlein.

The visitors still weren’t giving in and Heat 13 was a classic with Masters and Fricke battling at the front which at one stage enabled Nicholls to come through into second place before Fricke quickly switched back to split the Wolves pairing once again.

With memories still fresh of the Super Heat against Belle Vue, the last thing the Lions needed was for the meeting to go down to the final race, but thankfully the points were in the bag in Heat 14 with the home duo making the start, and whilst Douglas split Harris and Jake Allen, the Leicester duo secured a 4-2 that confirmed the league points.

But there was more excitement in Heat 15 with a tremendous first two laps by Fricke, who passed Masters on the back straight of lap one and then caught Nicholls, steaming inside him into the third bend next time around, whilst Lawson also got the better of Masters for another 4-2.

Leicester manager Stewart Dickson said: “That was a solid team effort, and that’s the sort of performance that we’re capable of.

“I know it’s easy when you’re winning but there seemed to be a nice feeling in the camp tonight, and I’m pleased for the riders.

“There was some really good racing, and the most important thing was getting a win. It was great to see the supporters coming out in large numbers again, and nice to win a Midlands derby!

“When you look at the riders Wolves came with who’ve raced on this track in the last few years, they had plenty of experience here so we knew it was going to be tough, but our No.1 showed us why he’s a No.1 and the rest of the guys all chipped in and worked hard.

“We knew they were a threat tonight, but I just think this might have been the start of our season hopefully.”

The Lions now have a clear week before hosting King’s Lynn at the Pidcock Motorcycles Arena, Beaumont Park next Thursday (May 11) in more Premiership action.

LEICESTER 49: Max Fricke 11+2, Justin Sedgmen 9+1, Richard Lawson 9, Chris Harris 7+2, Nick Morris 7, Jake Allen 5+1, Dan Thompson 1.
WOLVERHAMPTON 41: Sam Masters 14, Scott Nicholls 10, Ryan Douglas 6, Steve Worrall 5+1, Leon Flint 4, Rory Schlein 2+2, Zach Cook 0.

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Leicester Cubs V Scunthorpe Stags / Sheffield Prowlers
May 19, 2024

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