LEICESTER made a winning start to their National Development League title defence – but were made to fight all the way for a 47-42 victory over Berwick.

Dan Thompson scored a faultless 15-point maximum for the Lion Cubs and secured the result in the final race where they needed at least one point, with brother Joe having shed a chain on the start-line.

That was one of a series of incidents which hampered the Cubs throughout the meeting, making the scores much closer than many had expected especially after the Bullets’ heavy, injury-affected loss at Belle Vue on Friday.

Former Lion Cubs racer Connor Coles was strong at No.1 for the visitors, and there was a surprise package in another ex-Leicester rider, Jamie Halder, who took seven rides at reserve and also reached double figures.

But the Cubs’ own reserves more than played their part in proceedings as both Vinnie Foord and Max James came up with vital late rides to maintain the advantage.

James and Max Perry both suffered falls at the start of the meeting, with Perry unlucky in Heat 3 as two riders were disqualified in separate incidents, whilst Coles showed his form at the Pidcock Motorcycles Arena, Beaumont Park with an excellent third-to-first ride past Tom Spencer and Perry in Heat 5.

The Cubs’ first major advantage came in Heat 6 as debutant Ashton Boughen made a great start to team up with Dan Thompson for a 5-1 over Bullets skipper Greg Blair, but the visitors hit back in Heat 8 through Halder and guest George Congreve.

That left the Lion Cubs just one point ahead and a series of shared races followed, until Foord came up with a terrific effort in Heat 12 to blast past both Congreve and Halder around the outside to complete a 5-1 with Perry who was clear at the front.

But the ‘usual’ 5-1 from the Thompson Twins in Heat 13 was thwarted when Joe was squeezed out at the start and then fell on turn three as he looked to make up ground, and Heat 14 nearly turned into a disaster.

First Foord touched the tapes and was disqualified, to be replaced by James, and then in the re-run Spencer came to grief on the outside of turn two, leaving James to go alone against Halder and the experienced Danny Phillips.

James, who had scored just one point prior to that but changed machinery for the race, rode well in the early stages to fend off the challenge of Phillips and then produced a super cutback to dive inside Halder going into the last lap, his move warmly welcomed by both the crowd and his team-mates.

That took some of the pressure off going into the last race although Joe Thompson’s breakdown was still a concern – but brother Dan rode four perfect laps and the win was finally secured.

Manager Dave Howard said: “It was the first time everyone had been on the track, and obviously it was riding differently to how it did last year, so to get the win was the most important thing with all the falls and exclusions.

“There were a few close decisions and some misfortune, but everybody got some experience on the track and we’ll hope to get some more laps around here before our next home meeting.

“Max James changed his bike for Heat 14 and it was a great performance from him to come from where he was on the first bend. To come away with a win there was great for the team and also great for his confidence.

“Everybody had some good things to take away, which will be good for them, and we’ve just got to get some laps here before the next meeting in May, and after that it becomes more regular. The main thing was to get the win, and we achieved that.”

The Lion Cubs’ next fixture is away at Oxford on Wednesday May 10, and they are back at home on Saturday May 27 against Kent.

LEICESTER 47: Dan Thompson 15, Joe Thompson 8, Max Perry 7, Vinnie Foord 6+2, Tom Spencer 4+1, Max James 4, Ashton Boughen 3+1.
BERWICK 42: Connor Coles 12, Jamie Halder 11+1, Greg Blair 8+2, Danny Phillips 7+2, George Congreve 3+2, Kai Ward 1+1, Mason Watson r/r.

Next Home Meeting

Leicester Lions V Oxford Spires
May 27, 2024

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