Thursday July 20, 2023
KING’S Lynn gave it maximum effort but came up just short in a 46-44 defeat to in-form Leicester at the Adrian Flux Arena on Thursday.

Artem Laguta returned to top form for the MacInnes Stars and there were plenty of other encouraging signs in a battling display, but the all-round strength of the Lions proved too much.

And the key moments of the meeting were back-to-back Leicester 5-1s in Heats 7 and 8 which finally broke a deadlock which had existed throughout the whole of the first six races.

Each of those heats were shared with three wins for both sides, Laguta opening up in emphatic fashion with a classy move to turn back inside Grand Prix star Max Fricke off the second bend of Heat 1.

Anders Rowe followed up with his first win in Stars colours with a terrific ride in Heat 2, before the Lions responded with wins for Chris Harris and Richard Lawson in the next two races.

Skipper Nicolai Klindt held off Fricke to win Heat 5 whilst Laguta’s efforts in Heat 6 weren’t quite enough to get on terms with ex-Stars man Lawson, leaving the scores at 18-18.

However, Heat 7 proved a major blow as Troy Batchelor gated and was joined up front by Harris, who held the perfect line throughout to prevent Klindt from passing – and with the Stars looking to bounce back, Heat 8 went the wrong way too as Drew Kemp and Justin Sedgmen gated to maximum points over Kye Thomson and Rowe.

Manager David Hoggart made his move with a tactical substitute ride for Artem Laguta in Heat 9 in place of the usual rider replacement slot, but team-mate Thomas Jorgensen broke the tapes and whilst Laguta dominated the re-run, Lawson and Jake Allen kept Simon Lambert at the back.

There was a 4-2 for the Stars in Heat 10, Thomson gating well to initially hold a 5-1 with Laguta before Harris split the home riders, and after a shared Heat 11 as Klindt and Lambert just kept out Sedgmen, the Lions went eight-up again in the next as reserve Allen took the flag whilst Lambert got the better of Batchelor in the scrap for second place.

A very hard-fought first bend in Heat 13 saw Laguta left with little room as Fricke took charge, although he needed eyes in the back of his head to hold off Klindt and defended his position strongly right to the chequered flag, whilst Laguta retrieved third place from Lawson.

That left the Stars needing two 5-1s to salvage a draw, and it was game on in Heat 14 as Lambert and Jorgensen out-gated Harris – but the Lions captain built up his speed and surged inside Jorgensen at the start of the last lap to secure the league points.

And so a 5-1 in Heat 15 from Laguta and Klindt over Harris and Lawson served as consolation only for the Stars, as they were left to rue the points which had got away over the evening.

Hoggart said: “We can probably find three or four races where we could have nicked another point, maybe two points, but that’s what happens in the sport.

“I can’t question the effort, and I didn’t do as many changes tonight as I did on Monday at Leicester. If they’re scoring the points, or even if they’re not scoring the points but they’re riding for them, then I’m going to leave them in. As I said the other day, if we’re going to do down then we’re going to go down fighting.

“It was a massive blow losing Rory (Schlein), he was the guest of choice and willingly agreed to do it, and I hope he’s alright because I saw the footage of the crash on Wednesday and it looked dreadful.

“Credit to him, he made the call last night, and we called people today to replace him as the guest, two of them politely declined because of their current commitments and a third one didn’t return the call, so we did try – R/R would always have been our last choice against a team like Leicester.

“I was impressed with the way Anders rode tonight, he had a great meeting up in Glasgow at the weekend where he finished runner-up in the British U21, and that’s got to help him. He attacked the track, he wasn’t frightened in the first corners, and onwards and upwards for him I hope.”

Next up for the Stars is an A47 derby double against Peterborough, starting with a trip to the East of England Arena on Monday.

KING’S LYNN 44: Artem Laguta 15+1, Nicolai Klindt 11+2, Simon Lambert 7+2, Anders Rowe 5, Kye Thomson 3+1, Thomas Jorgensen 3, Michael Palm Toft r/r.
LEICESTER 46: Chris Harris 10+1, Max Fricke 10, Richard Lawson 8, Justin Sedgmen 5+2, Jake Allen 5+2, Drew Kemp 4+1, Troy Batchelor 4.

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