LEICESTER produced a strong all-round team display to see off Rye House 53-37 at the Paul Chapman & Sons Arena on Monday.
The Watling JCB Lions gave the perfect response to last week’s home setback against Swindon with a workmanlike performance in an entertaining meeting.
No.1 Kenneth Bjerre led the scoring, dropping just two points from five rides, and there was another spectacular display from Polish newcomer Krystian Pieszczek, who was involved in some of the best racing of the night.
With solid showings throughout and the reserves coming good after conceding a Heat 2 5-1, the Lions had too much for the Rockets, for whom ex-British Champion Chris Harris remarkably failed to score from four rides.
Bjerre and Kyle Newman both had to fight past Harris for the minor places in the opening race, and Lions were indebted to Pieszczek and skipper Danny King in Heat 3 as their 5-1 cancelled out the visitors’ clear maximum in Heat 2.
The hosts edged in front in Heat 5 after Harris had picked up drive and fallen into the path of Pieszczek on turn four, the Pole winning the re-run with King third after being forced to borrow a machine from Newman just before the start.
The Rockets did their best to keep things tight but two 4-2s in Heats 8 and 9 enabled the Lions to open up a six-point lead with Todd Kurtz recovering from a quiet start to the meeting to fly from the start and hold off Aaron Summers for an excellent race win, and King then producing a classy effort to get the better of the evergreen Scott Nicholls on lap one.
With Rye resisting the temptation to use a tactical substitute in Heat 10, Bjerre and Newman both hit back to overhaul a fast-starting Nikolaj Busk Jakobsen to share the points behind Krzysztof Kasprzak.
And the lead suddenly hit double figures when James Sarjeant flew from the traps in Heat 11 to link up with Hans Andersen over Summers and Harris.
The Rockets did respond with a tactical substitute in Heat 12 but whilst Nicholls won the race there was high drama behind as King fended off Kasprzak, with Kurtz then coming up with a great ride to snatch third place from the Pole.
Nicholls rode hard to split Bjerre and Andersen in Heat 13 but the resultant 4-2 meant the Lions’ points were already safe with two heats to go.
Busk Jakobsen fell heavily on the back straight of Heat 14 after a close tussle with Pieszczek, and with the Dane excluded the re-run was a classic clash between Pieszczek and Kasprzak as the two passed and re-passed – but just as the Leicester man looked to have the race in the bag he fell on the last bend and had to push home for a point.
That wasn’t the end of Pieszczek’s night, though, as he returned for Heat 15 and promptly partnered Bjerre to maximum points over Nicholls and Summers to put an impressive seal on the Leicester performance.
Manager Simon Stead said: “I’m really happy with that. I did say last week that losing that meeting wasn’t going to define us, it was about how we responded, and the lads have settled in now.
“Kenneth is on his own bikes and we saw a brilliant performance from him tonight, and Todd has also put in a good performance.
“If you look through the team sheet, it’s got to be positive. Rye House kept it tight early on, but we responded and we finished really, really well.”
Lions now take a break from Premiership action but are back at home on Bank Holiday Monday (May 7) when they face King’s Lynn in the KO Cup (7.30pm).
LEICESTER 53: Kenneth Bjerre 12+1, Krystian Pieszczek 11+1, Hans Andersen 9, Danny King 8+1, Todd Kurtz 5+2, James Sarjeant 5+1, Kyle Newman 3+2.
RYE HOUSE 37: Scott Nicholls 12+1, Aaron Summers 9, Krzysztof Kasprzak 8, Nikolaj B Jakobsen 6+1, Max Clegg 2+1, Chris Harris 0, Edward Kennett r/r.