LEICESTER are top of the ROWE Motor Oil Premiership table after a 53-37 home win over Birmingham on Thursday.

Sam Masters scored a paid maximum for the Watling JCB Lions who took advantage of the postponement of the Ipswich/Sheffield fixture to leapfrog their rivals and move to the head of the standings.

It was a third straight victory as the Lions kept up their impressive recent run, and Masters’ unbeaten display from five rides was backed up by Max Fricke who dropped a single point, whilst Ryan Douglas and reserve Drew Kemp each won two outings.

The Brummies provided stubborn opposition for a time, and four of their riders won a race, but the Lions pulled clear with 5-1s in both Heats 13 and 15 to confirm their supremacy, as they also took the aggregate point after their recent victory at Perry Barr.

Fricke was beaten by Birmingham No.1 Vaclav Milik in Heat 1 as the visitors opened with a 4-2, but the Lions levelled matters in Heat 3 as Masters took victory ahead of Tom Brennan with Richard Lawson adding third place.

There could have been a concern in Heat 4 when Ryan Douglas touched the tapes and was disqualified, but Drew Kemp – who had earlier won the reserves’ race – replaced the Australian and produced an excellent ride to defeat Polish star Piotr Pawlicki and maintain the level scoreline.

When the Brummies erred at the start it was more costly as Milik found himself timed out of Heat 5 for not being ready to race at the expiration of the two-minute warning, and with the visitors electing to take the 15-metre handicap the race resulted in a clear 5-1 from Lawson and Masters.

Fricke and Luke Becker then doubled up in Heat 6 with maximum points over Pawlicki to extend the Lions’ advantage to eight points.

Brennan crashed on the fourth bend of Heat 7, fortunately without injury, but his team-mate Wiktor Lampart fended off Douglas to win the re-run, and the Brummies were firmly in contention when Steve Worrall and Leon Flint combined for a 5-1 in Heat 8.

That cut the gap to four points but the Lions carded 4-2s in the next two races, Masters ahead of Pawlicki with a smart move on the second bend in Heat 9 whilst Fricke took the flag in Heat 10.

Heats 11 and 12 were shared with Masters winning the latter as the Brummies sent out Worrall for a tactical substitute ride, whilst Kemp’s hard efforts in both races received no points reward.

At that stage the Lions led 40-32 but their margin was to be doubled in the closing races thanks to two late 5-1s, Fricke controlling both Heats 13 and 15 on the first two turns to team up with first Douglas and then Masters, whilst Brennan took a deserved win in between in Heat 14 for the visitors.

Leicester manager Stewart Dickson said: “It was fairly convincing in the end, but I did say beforehand that Birmingham would score more than in their home match, regardless of the abandonment there, because I know they’ve got guys who can ride this place from the Championship.

“But from a Leicester point of view we’ve got the three points that were on offer, Max and Sam were really strong at the top, and we thoroughly deserved it.

“We still don’t have all seven clicking yet, and next week I think we will need at least six out of the seven clicking to beat Ipswich, who are a bit of a bogey side for us, so we’re gearing up for them next Thursday.”

That clash next Thursday (May 2) sees the Lions take on the Witches with the sides currently first and second in the league table, although that could change depending on Belle Vue’s result at Birmingham on Monday.

LEICESTER 53: Sam Masters 13+2, Max Fricke 13+1, Drew Kemp 8+2, Ryan Douglas 8, Richard Lawson 7, Luke Becker 4+1, Joe Thompson 0.
BIRMINGHAM 37: Steve Worrall 8+1, Piotr Pawlicki 7, Tom Brennan 7, Wiktor Lampart 5, Vaclav Milik 4+1, Leon Flint 3+2, Zach Cook 3+1.
Leicester win the aggregate point

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Leicester Lions V Ipswich Witches
July 18, 2024 19.30

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