The Lions team make the journey south tomorrow to Lakeside for their opening Elite League fixture of the season. The Hammers were one of several teams that made the early running for a place in the play-off’s but their momentum petered out leaving them in sixth place and ten points off fourth position. Three of their top five from last season have returned and the announcement that Andreas Jonsson was returning to British Speedway was one of the top stories of the winter transfer news.
Leicester’s Team Manager Norrie Allan is forced into an early season change to the side that won the East Midlands Bowl last week. Mikkel Michelsen, who injured his foot in the second leg of the ‘Bowl’ at Coventry, is missing and his place has been taken by Ben Barker who will form an opening pairing with Jason Doyle.
“I have spoken to Mikkel and he is hopeful of a return to the team in 2 to 3 weeks’ time and that is good news as I feared that he would be out of the side for much longer. Ben was pleased to help us out and what I like about him is that he gives you full commitment and in my view he is an ideal replacement. Lakeside are a very good home side and it is a venue that can inspire a visiting team to a higher level if you can at least match them point for point early on” commented the Lions Promoter Norrie Allan.
Lakeside: 1. Andreas Jonsson, 2. Kim Nilsson, 3. Mikkel Bech, 4. Edward Kennett, 5. Richard Lawson, 6. Adam Ellis and 7. Ashley Birks
Leicester: 1. Jason Doyle, 2. Ben Barker, 3. Grzegorz Walasek, 4. Szymon Wozniak, 5. Bjarne Pedersen, 6. Josh Auty and 7. Simon Lambert
It was a triumphant night for Jason Doyle and Leicester Speedway as the Lions captain added another prestigious title to his achievements by winning the Elite League Riders Championship title at the Jordan Road Surfacing Stadium last night.
In the qualifying heats, Poole’s representative Maciej Janowski was the in-form rider having won his last four races after finishing third in his opening ride. Behind him were Niels-Kristian Iversen and Doyle who had tied on twelve points. Janowski was seeded direct to the final and so too was Iversen by virtue of having won more races than Leicester’s number one.
There he met last season’s defending champion Troy Batchelor, the seven-time British Champion Scott Nicholls and Coventry’s Hans Andersen. Doyle was starting off grid three on the start-line which had produced three of the previous four heat winners but the race was stopped within seconds as Doyle fell whilst challenging for first bend supremacy. The white exclusion light did not come on and so Doyle received another chance and he grasped the opportunity in the re-run with a smart first corner that left his opponents scrapping for the minor places. In the final and off one of the least favoured grid positions at that stage, Jason drew upon his home track knowledge to make another decisive start and rode a perfect four laps ahead of Iversen and Janowski who were contesting second place.
Qualifying Heats: Maciej Janowski (Poole) 13, Niels-Kristian Iversen (King’s Lynn) 12, Jason Doyle (Leicester) 12, Hans Andersen (Coventry) 10, Scott Nicholls (Belle Vue) 10, Troy Batchelor (Swindon) 10, Freddie Lindgren (Wolverhampton) 8, Szymon Wozniak (Leicester) 8, Chris Holder (Poole) 8, Matej Zagar (Belle Vue) 7, Bjarne Pedersen (Leicester) 6, Kenneth Bjerre (King’s Lynn) 6, Nick Morris (Swindon) 5, Richard Lawson (Lakeside) 4, Mikkel Bech (Lakeside) 1, Chris Harris (Coventry) 0, Josh Auty (Leicester, meeting reserve) 0 and Josh Bates (Wolverhampton, meeting reserve) 0
Semi-final: Doyle, Batchelor, Nicholls, Andersen
Final: Doyle, Iversen, Janowski, Batchelor
Reduced to six riders in the return fixture of the East Midlands Bowl at Coventry last night Leicester ended the meeting losing by 52 points to 40 but won the competition with an aggregate score of 103 points to 79. The Lions overcame a first race setback when Jason Doyle was excluded as the cause of the stoppage when he fell whilst challenging for the lead and Mikkel Michelsen required medical attention after clipping his captain’s machine and was taken to hospital for an x-ray on his injured foot.
It was not the best possible start and when Coventry began with two maximum scores which left the Lions trailing by 10-2 until their two Polish riders Grzegorz Walasek (pictured) and Szymon Wozniak steadied the rocking boat with back-to-back wins.
Whilst the home team extended their lead to ten points on three occasions, the Lions quickly countermanded any further losses by outscoring the Bees in the subsequent races. Grzegorz Walasek kept Leicester in the match with four wins before finishing third to the home pairing of Andersen and Chris Harris. After his exclusion in the first race, Doyle won a heat, and scored double points in a tactical ride. Wozniak, on his debut ride at Coventry came first and Josh Auty ended the meeting second top scorer after winning his final ride.
“We were certainly on the back foot after losing Mikkel before even a lap had even been completed but the team rallied around and whilst we never threatened to win the meeting at the same time we kept the difference in points close on the night. We knew that Coventry would be a much different proposition at Brandon and so it proved. It was a great turn-out of our fans and they were right behind the team and I am pleased for them that we won the trophy but my main concern at the moment is Mikkel ” said the Lions Team Manager Norrie Allan.
Coventry 52 points: Hans Andersen 12 points plus 1 bonus, Stuart Robson 5+1, Danny King 7, Jakub Jamrog 1, Chris Harris 9+2, Jason Garrity 8+3 and James Sarjeant 10
Leicester 40 points: Jason Doyle 7 points, Mikkel Michelsen 0, Grzegorz Walasek 13, Szymon Wozniak 6, Bjarne Pedersen 4, Josh Auty 9+1 and Simon Lambert 1
Photograph courtesy of Mark Hall Photography
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