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WHAT TO EXPECT FROM THE ACES IN 2024

Belle Vue came agonisingly close to reaching the Sports Insure Play-Off Final in 2023, only losing out to Ipswich in the very last heat of their semi-final.

CEO and promoter Mark Lemon will be looking to repeat the success the Aces enjoyed in 2022, and has only made 2 changes to his team to do so.

Fan's favourites Charles Wright and Tom Brennan are the only riders to depart from the 2023 Aces side, with Aussie star Ben Cook and Brit Connor Mountain coming in to replace them.

Cook's small stature is perfectly suited to the fast and flowing NSS circuit and his progress in British Speedway has been rapid. He should do well for the Aces and once he is dialled into his new home circuit, he will be beating some big names and providing plenty of entertainment for the home fans.

Mountain is no stranger to fast circuits either - he spent 2022 with Sheffield and should adapt well to the NSS. However, he has big boots to fill if he is to be looked at as Brennan's replacement, but the big difference is that Mountain will start at reserve and he is more than capable of performing well in that position.

Returning as heat leaders for the Aces are Dan Bewley, Brady Kurtz and Jaimon Lidsey. GP star Bewley had a below-par 2023 UK season by his standards, but he is without doubt one of the very best riders in the world and is almost unbeatable around the NSS when in top form. He is a top class signing for the Aces and it's fantastic to have riders of his calibre racing in the UK.

Australian's Kurtz and Lidsey also provide ample top end strength to the Belle Vue side. Kurtz is a classy rider who can beat anyone and he would be welcomed by any Sports Insure Premiership team. He rides any track well, big or small, and the fact that he starts at number 1 with an average higher than Dan Bewley's highlights his ability.

Lidsey returned to British Speedway in 2023 with a bang and finished with an average of just under 8 points. The 2020 World U21 Champion will still be only 25 by the time the season starts, so there is still plenty of room for improvement in him. He is devastatingly fast around the NSS and potentially a future GP star.

19-year-old German Norick Blodorn returns and starts in the main body of the Aces team. A season finishing 5.83 average is impressive for someone so young and Lemon obviously rates him highly when you consider the riders who have been released on very similar averages. The 2022 German Champion can go a long way in the sport, but needs to show a little more aggression on the bike to reach his full potential.

Belle Vue's Rising Star is current British U21 Champion Connor Bailey. Connor made big strides in 2023 and has started to realise the early potential he showed. When compared to the other 6 Rising Stars in the league, he can be considered one of, if not the strongest rider in this position in 2024.

BSN Verdict:

The Aces have assembled a good side again for 2024. They have an excellent top 3 that can match anyone, but will need Ben Cook and Norick Blodorn to continue their progression towards heat leader status to be real contenders for the Sports Insure Premiership title.

ACES LINE UP FOR 2024

Brady Kurtz

Dan Bewley

Jaimon Lidsey

Norick Blodorn

Ben Cook

Connor Mountain

Connor Bailey (RS)

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