MEETING REPORT: Another Panthers win after a marathon meeting

Chris Harris.
Chris Harris.
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Peterborough Panthers continued their SGB Championship winning streak last night (October 6) - in a speedway meeting that had it all.

It was certainly a long night at the East of England Arena as a 50-43 success against Workington took two-and-a-half hours to complete.

Ulrich Ostergaard.

Ulrich Ostergaard.

There were hold-ups and cock-ups along the way, but there was also some terrific action in a largely meaningless, but very entertaining, SGB Championship contest.

Two major delays (one for a whole gaggle of grown men to attempt to knot the starting tapes back into shape; the other when a Tom Bacon crash demolished much of the first-bend air fence) were largely responsible for the contest going right up to (or perhaps even slightly past) the 10pm cut-off time.

There were also countless re-runs - one due to that aforementioned spill, another after visiting rider Ty Proctor was excluded for going onto the centre green (an act followed by a stomp up to the referee’s box to remonstrate), two more because of tapes offences and others basically down to the fact that trainee referee Seth Perkin seemed particularly fussy).

As if that lot wasn’t enough, there was also a five-lap race to finish a meeting in which Panthers led from start to finish – eventually securing victory when captain Ulrich Ostergaard took the flag in a heat 14 4-2.

Simon Lambert.

Simon Lambert.

The Danish ace sat on a four-ride paid maximum at that point, but then brought up the rear in the finale as last season’s Panthers number one, Craig Cook, claimed his third win of the night to inspire a 4-2 for Workington. They needed a 5-1 to nick a consolation league point.

The night began with an apt, and possibly optimistic, airing of Gloria Gaynor classic ‘I Will Survive’ on the rider parade ahead of the opening heat.

Panthers began impressively with four 4-2s in the opening four races – the first two of which were won by reserve Simon Lambert.

Top-scorer Chris Harris and Ostergaard also bagged wins during that impressive sequence with the latter also coming home in front in a shared third heat.

Panthers upped the ante further when Jack Holder and Bradley Wilson-Dean combined for a 5-1 in a sixth heat re-run after Proctor went into the tapes at the start of the initial staging.

Proctor was seen in a considerably better light when cashing in the Comets’ tactical ride in heat eight. His victory, combined with a third place for James Sarjeant, earned the visitors a 7-2 that cut their arrears to seven points.

Proctor was soon in the spotlight again when riding onto the infield to take his place at the start of heat nine.

And, after quite correctly being excluded, he headed up through the crowd to the referee’s box where Perkin was working under the guidance of Tony Steele.

Given his disappointment in the heat of the moment, Proctor was remarkably calm and composed as he pleaded his case, which was based around a pits marshal assuring him the start marshal would lift the tapes to allow him through as he approached from the wrong way. That didn’t happen.

The jeers of plenty of supporters then tested Proctor’s mood further before he trudged back to the pits while contemplating another 15-metre handicap at the start of the re-run.

Proctor actually rode very well to finish on the tails of Panthers pair Paul Starke and Ostergaard, but not close enough to prevent them claiming a 5-1.

However, two 4-2s in the space of three races dragged Workington back into contention a second time, while current British champion Cook twice beat three-time predecessor Harris in shared heats 11 and 13.

But the double-figures Panthers duo of Ostergaard and Lambert combined to seal victory in the penultimate contest before Cook capped a classy individual showing with a third win of the night in the finale.

The result maintained Panthers’ hopes of snatching fifth place in the standings. They’ll also need to beat Edinburgh in their still-to-be-arranged final league meeting while hoping Redcar fail to take a point from two remaining away outings.

Panthers’ next meeting will be a KO Cup semi-final with the home leg being staged on either October 13 or October 15.

Who they face, and when they welcome them to Alwalton, should become clear on Monday when Newcastle host Glasgow in the second leg of a quarter-final. The Scottish side lead 46-44 after last night’s first leg.

SCORES

PANTHERS: Chris Harris 12, Ulrich Ostergaard 11+1, Simon Lambert 10+1, Jack Holder 6+1, Paul Starke 6, Bradley Wilson-Dean 3+1, Tom Bacon 2.

WORKINGTON: Craig Cook 13, Ty Proctor 11, Mason Campton 7+1, Matt Williamson 6+1, James Sarjeant 6, Tom Woolley (guest) 0, Rider replacement for Thomas Jorgensen.

HEATS

1 - re-run Lambert (60.7), Cook, Wilson-Dean, Sarjeant. 4-2, 4-2.

2 - re-run Lambert (60.6), Sarjeant, Bacon, Woolley. 4-2, 8-4.

3 - Ostergaard (60.8), Williamson, Campton, Starke. 3-3, 11-7.

4 - re-run Harris (60.1), Proctor, Bacon, Woolley. 4-2, 15-9.

5 - Ostergaard (60.3), Cook, Starke, Campton. 4-2, 19-11.

6 - re-run Holder (61.6), Wilson-Dean, Proctor (15m), Woolley. 5-1, 24-12.

7 - re-run Harris (60.1), Campton, Williamson, Bacon. 3-3, 27-15.

8 - Proctor (t/r, 62.2), Lambert, Sarjeant, Wilson-Dean. 2-7, 29-22.

9 - re-run Starke (62.1), Ostergaard, Proctor (15m), Sarjeant. 5-1, 34-23.

10 -re-run Williamson (62.6), Holder, Campton, Wilson-Dean. 2-4, 36-27.

11 - Cook (62.2), Harris, Lambert, Williamson. 3-3, 39-30.

12 - Campton (62.5), Starke, Sarjeant, Bacon. 2-4, 41-34.

13 - Cook (61.8), Harris, Holder, Proctor. 3-3, 44-37.

14 - re-run Ostergaard (62.7), Sarjeant, Lambert, Williamson. 4-2, 48-39.

15 - Cook (awarded), Harris, Proctor, Ostergaard. 2-4, 50-43.