LEICESTER are delighted to welcome back local youngster Dan Thompson to take the Rising Star berth in their 2023 Premiership line-up.

The 18-year-old has come through the ranks with the club alongside twin brother Joe, having appeared as mascot before joining the Lion Cubs in the National Development League in 2019 and stepping up to the Championship in the following season.

All Premiership clubs have to name one rider from the Rising Star list, and there have been several success stories since the scheme began in 2021.

Thompson will start the season at No.7 for the Watling JCB Lions and is guaranteed at least two races against his direct opponent in each meeting – but his record at the Paul Chapman & Sons Arena strongly suggests he can shock some of the more experience riders in the league as well.

Manager Stewart Dickson said: “We know the scalps Dan took last season, the likes of Josh Pickering, our own Chris Harris, and several others along the way, and we know he will get even better next season around his home track.

“I don’t need to tell him he’ll need to work on his away form, and there could be some tracks that he’s not been to for a while, but the bottom line is that he’s deserving of his place.

“This Rising Star system is for people like him, and he was the obvious choice for us. We’re delighted to offer him the position and glad that he’s accepted it.

“Obviously it would have been ideal if he’d found a Championship team, but hopefully that door will open for him as the season progresses.

“He has nothing to prove to me, but if he can show the form that I know he can then I’m sure he will be an option for any teams who don’t start as well as they are expecting.”

Thompson does have a little experience as part of a Premiership side, as he was a squad member for Sheffield this year and made one official appearance.

And he’s excited now to take the opportunity of racing in the UK’s top league on a full-time basis and being able to offer the Lions a real sting in the tail at reserve.

He said: “I’m really looking forward to it, and I’m grateful to Stewart for giving me the opportunity.

“Obviously the Premiership is tougher riders, but I have beaten a lot of experienced riders around Leicester, and hopefully I can make more progress next year and kick on.

“The team looks brilliant so far, it’s filled with loads of riders of real class, and it looks like it could be a title-winning team.

“I haven’t won any silverware with the senior Leicester team yet, so I’ll definitely be setting out to try and get some.”

Thompson becomes the fifth confirmed starter for the Watling JCB Lions, and his average does not count towards the 39-point team-building limit which is for the top six members of the team.

Lions have two spots remaining in that department, with a total of 8.86 points available, and can confirm the riders to fill those positions have been identified, and they are now awaiting the return of contracts before announcements are made.

Meanwhile Dickson is also in contact with Lion Cubs boss Dave Howard with planning for the club’s NDL team also at an advanced stage, and updates should follow in the near future.

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Leicester Lions V Oxford Spires
May 27, 2024

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