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WHAT TO EXPECT FROM THE LIONS IN 2024

The Lions' 2023 season started with so much promise, but came crashing down at the last minute when they missed out on play-off qualification as a result of a huge defeat at Peterborough in late September.

Lessons will have been learned from the heartbreak and boss Stewart Dickson is a tough character who will be aiming for his first league title at this level.

Dickson has retained just 3 riders from his 2023 side; Max Fricke, Richard Lawson and Drew Kemp.

Aussie Star Fricke will lead the side once again and is an excellent number 1 for the Lions. Fricke's performances around the tricky Leicester circuit in 2023 earned him hero status amongst the club's fan base and he is a star performer both home and away.

Lawson is a hard and dependable rider who has excellent gating abilities. Though not spectacular, the experienced Brit is a reliable and consistent scorer who rarely gets into trouble on the bike, and he will have been an obvious choice for Dickson on an average of just below 7 points.

Kemp came into the Lions line up mid-season last year and made an immediate impact with several impressive scores from reserve, a position he will start in again this season. The young Brit is finally starting to show why he was rated so highly when he first appeared on the British Speedway scene, but consistency has been an issue in the past and that is something he needs to work on to realise his potential.

Completing the main body of the 2024 team alongside Fricke and Lawson are Sam Masters, Luke Becker and Ryan Douglas. All 3 make the move from the sadly defunct Wolverhampton, where each finished the 2023 season with an average of just over 7 points per meeting.

There is a lot to like about the new arrivals. Masters is a proven heat leader at this level and started last season as number 1 for the Wolves. A move away from this position with Leicester will take some pressure off the tall Aussie and he can be expected to perform well for his new club.

Douglas' rise in British Speedway has been steady if not spectacular, but he has now established himself as a reliable and high scoring rider in the Premiership. He finished at number 1 for Wolves last year and returning to a track where his career really took off is a good move for him and the club. The quiet Aussie is improving every year and there is no reason to believe he will not continue on this path.

Becker is the USA's top rider and he really is going places in his career. The start to his 2023 season was delayed due to injury, but a late start didn't slow his progress for long and he finished the season scoring double figures consistently. Becker only just missed out on 2024 Speedway GP qualification which highlights his obvious potential. He is a superb acquisition for the Lions.

The final piece of the Lions puzzle is Rising Star Joe Thompson. The 19-year-old Brit may be one of the league's weaker Rising Stars on paper, but there are very few who know the Pidcock Motorcycles Arena better. He can be very fast around his home circuit where is is more than capable of holding his own, but may things more difficult on his travels.

BSN Verdict:

The Lions have a very solid top 5 with a world class number 1. They have strength in depth and it wouldn't be surprising to see a battle for their 2nd and 3rd heat leader spots as each of their top 5 can win races regularly at this level. This team can make the tricky Pidcock Motorcycles Arena a fortress, so the Lions should play-off contenders again in 2024.

LIONS LINE UP FOR 2024:

Max Fricke

Ryan Douglas

Sam Masters

Luke Becker

Richard Lawson

Drew Kemp

Joe Thompson (RS)

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