LEICESTER captain Max Fricke struck a brilliant 15-point maximum as his side defeated Belle Vue 53-37 in their most convincing performance of the season.

The result moved the Watling JCB Lions into the early top four of the ROWE Motor Oil Premiership and completed an excellent week following Monday’s win at Birmingham.

Fricke was at his imperious best with a full house against his old club – just as had been the case on their previous visit last season – but this was an impressive all-round display which saw the Lions provide 12 of the 15 race wins.

And their domination was such that the Aces’ much heralded top two of Brady Kurtz and Dan Bewley failed to notch a single race win between them.

With reserves Joe Thompson and Drew Kemp again contributing well to the Lions’ effort, there was even a chance that they could complete an unlikely comeback to take the aggregate point despite last week’s 18-point defeat in Manchester.

In the end, that proved to be just beyond them but this was still a statement of what the team are capable of with the early-season glitches seemingly resolved.

The meeting took place in excellent track conditions as rain prior to start time moved away, and the circuit in fact needed watering at the halfway stage.

Lions opened up in positive fashion with three 4-2s in the first four races, with Kurtz relegated to the back of Heat 1 and Thompson riding a terrific fourth bend in Heat 2 to get the better of Connor Mountain.

Jaimon Lidsey became the Aces’ first winner in Heat 3 as Sam Masters retrieved second spot from Ben Cook, before there was nearly a sensation in Heat 4 when Thompson led Bewley for three laps only for the British Champion to come through for second place as Ryan Douglas took the win.

Masters and Luke Becker than banged in a big 5-1 over Kurtz in Heat 5 and the Lions’ advantage was never greatly threatened thereafter.

Fricke got the better of Bewley in a shared Heat 6, and although Lidsey took his second win in an Aces’ 4-2 in Heat 7 as Douglas lost out to Cook for third, the Lions moved eight-up again with their own 4-2 in the next with Richard Lawson taking the win and Thompson again very much in the action as he battled with Norick Blodorn and then fended off Connor Bailey.

Aces boss Mark Lemon used his tactical substitute in Heat 9 but the introduction of Lidsey to partner Bewley was neutralised by a quality first lap by Masters to hit the front for a shared race, before Fricke rode a stormer in Heat 10 to go from third to first on turn four and maintain his winning run.

Lions kept their ten-point advantage as Douglas and Masters won the next two races, with Thompson going between Lidsey and Mountain in the latter before dropping back.

Fricke looked set to lose out in Heat 13 but he quickly pounced on an error by Kurtz who lifted on turn four, offering the home captain a chance to pass on the inside which he gratefully accepted.

It gave the Lions an outside chance of the aggregate point but that was ended when Cook made the start and cleared off to win a shared Heat 14.

But the Lions still finished on a high with a 5-1 from Fricke and Douglas over Lidsey in the final race after Kurtz had been disqualified having not been ready to race upon the expiry of the two-minute time allowance.

Leicester manager Stewart Dickson said: “It’s been a much better week for us. We had a good, positive two points at Birmingham, and tonight again a good performance and two more points.

“Around Heat 8 or 9 we were looking at it and saying can we get the aggregate point - Belle Vue held on for that, but I think the most important thing was the overall performance.

“There are still one or two riders to go into another gear, but when your No.1 is scoring a 15-point maximum and you have 12 race winners at home, it’s a really good sign for us.

“Dougy is now making good starts, Sam Masters is dialled in, and I must also mention our reserves because they outscored Belle Vue’s, and that’s really important, we need to be doing that at home.

“Overall it was a seven-man team effort, not everybody can ride well every meeting, but we did enough to get a convincing win and everybody is positive.”

The Lions are next in action with another home match on Thursday April 25, this time against Birmingham where another victory would also secure the aggregate point.

LEICESTER 53: Max Fricke 15, Sam Masters 10+1, Ryan Douglas 9+1, Richard Lawson 5, Drew Kemp 5, Joe Thompson 5, Luke Becker 4+1.
BELLE VUE 37: Jaimon Lidsey 12+1, Dan Bewley 6, Norick Blodorn 5+1, Brady Kurtz 5, Ben Cook 5, Connor Mountain 4+2, Connor Bailey 0.
Belle Vue win the aggregate point

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July 18, 2024 19.30

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