Play-off chasing Peterborough Panthers have axed teenage star Robert Lambert . . . and replaced him with top Premier League performer Ben Barker.
The city club announced the surprise move, which will go through once receiving British Speedway Promoters’ Association (BSPA) clearance, late tonight (August 18).
Panthers chiefs have refused to go into detail about the reasons behind the switch.
A club statement claims the decision has been made ‘in the best interests of the club’.
It stated: “It goes without saying that we thank Robert for his contribution to what we hope will be a memorable season for the club.
“We are also in no doubt that he will go on to fulfil his potential and become a top rider in the future, but right now we have made this decision with the best interests of the club in mind.
“We will make no further comment on the decision and now wish to focus fully on the crucial meetings ahead.”
Great Britain international Lambert has only appeared in just over half of Panthers’ fixtures in his debut season in the second tier due to injury, illness and fixture clashes.
It means his last act for the club was tumbling out of a home defeat at the hands of Premier League table-toppers Edinburgh 10 days ago.
New recruit Barker has been passed fit to return to racing after suffering back and neck injuries in a horror crash in the British Final in June.
He spent almost a month in hospital and was replaced by previous club Berwick which left the door open for Panthers to make their move.
The club statement continued: “We are delighted to have agreed a deal to bring one of the top performers in Premier League speedway to Peterborough.
“Ben is not only a very talented rider, he is also a hugely exciting one who has previously guested for us on a couple of occasions this season to great effect.
“His experience and knowledge will be big assets in the final weeks of the season and there is no doubt his arrival will boost our chances of battling for honours.
“We have six crucial meetings remaining in the regular season and the challenge for the riders is to finish in second place.
“We have a bit of ground to make up on Glasgow, but we have the meetings in hand and we have the quality to get results home and away.”
Barker arrives on a 7.55 average which puts him second in the club’s averages. He is in line for a debut when Panthers host Newcastle at the East of England Showground on Friday night (7.30pm).
Currently injured captain Ulrich Ostergaard now reverts to number one in place of the departed Lambert. King’s Lynn man Nicklas Porsing will guest in that position against Newcastle.