LEICESTER paid the price for too many last places in a 52-38 defeat at Belle Vue on Bank Holiday Monday.

The Watling JCB Lions put on a competitive show at the National Speedway Stadium but lacked the all-round consistency to seriously challenge for victory.

There was a big highlight with a sensational ride by skipper Chris Harris to win Heat 10, and there were also race victories for Max Fricke, Justin Sedgmen and Jake Allen.

But the visitors also registered ten no-scores as the Aces’ solid top-order made few mistakes on the day.

Fricke and Harris both ran last places in their opening rides, not helped by a tough gate three starting position, with the Aces securing two 4-2s in the first four races.

Fricke was the Lions’ first winner in Heat 5 as he got the better of Tom Brennan and Charles Wright, but the home side notched the first 5-1 in the next race when Dan Bewley – who was on the very edge of exceeding the time allowance – clamped Nick Morris on the first bend, and Norick Blodorn came around the outside to join him.

Lions pegged the home side’s lead at eight points with Sedgmen winning Heat 8, and they brought in Fricke for a tactical substitute in the next race.

But it turned into a disaster as Morris suffered bike trouble in the pits and was disqualified, whilst Fricke was squeezed out on the first bend by Wright and Brennan, who proceeded to ride superbly to keep the Australian behind them.

At 33-21 down, the Lions could have fallen away completely but instead they pressed on and Harris produced a superb effort in Heat 10 after initially facing a 1-5 when Dan Bewley charged through to join Blodorn.

Harris went for the very outside to re-pass Bewley and then after a neck-and-neck scrap with Blodorn, he beat the German to the line by inches.

Fricke and Jake Allen added good wins in Heats 11 and 12 but Belle Vue made the match safe with a 4-2 in the next race, Fricke splitting Brady Kurtz and Bewley.

Harris was just beaten by Jaimon Lidsey in Heat 14, before an ultra-competitive finale saw Fricke hit the front but be ruthlessly moved aside by Kurtz on the fourth bend as the race was shared.

Lions boss Stewart Dickson said: “It’s a disappointment because although obviously we were expecting a tough one, I think we should have been capable of scoring more than 38 points.

“We got off to a bad start in Heat 1 and never really managed to recover from it, and although we did get some race wins, we didn’t manage the advantages to go with them.

“It’s frustrating, especially with what happened in the tactical substitute race because although Nick wasn’t having a great day, we were hoping he would make it from gate two, which would have allowed Max to come from four, but Nick got excluded.

“Really it’s a reflection of what we’ve seen so far, collectively we’re not quite where we should be at this stage, and nothing is going to be given to us easily in this league.”

Lions now look to regroup and prepare for a tough home test against Wolverhampton at the Pidcock Motorcycles Arena, Beaumont Park on Thursday.

BELLE VUE 52: Brady Kurtz 14, Tom Brennan 9+1, Dan Bewley 8+1, Norick Blodorn 7+1, Jaimon Lidsey 7+1, Charles Wright 6+1, Jake Mulford 1+1.
LEICESTER 38: Max Fricke 11, Chris Harris 7+2, Justin Sedgmen 5, Richard Lawson 5, Jake Allen 5, Dan Thompson 3+1, Nick Morris 2+1.

Photo credit: IAN CHARLES

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