MEETING REPORT: City racers revel in the rain to record rare win

Scott Nicholls leads heat one for Panthers against Glasgow. Photo: David Lowndes.
Scott Nicholls leads heat one for Panthers against Glasgow. Photo: David Lowndes.
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Peterborough Panthers were beaten by the wet weather last night (September 3) – but not before they claimed a first SGB Championship win in eight outings.

The city side’s long wait for success, which stretched back to July 23, was ended by a 35-31 triumph against Glasgow at the East of England Arena.

Simon Lambert leads heat two for Panthers against Glasgow. Photo: David Lowndes.

Simon Lambert leads heat two for Panthers against Glasgow. Photo: David Lowndes.

An entertaining meeting, involving two patched-up sides, was cut short after 11 heats due to heavy rain with the result standing.

The outcome was an accurate reflection of a contest in which Panthers led throughout without ever being able to shake off the attentions of a determined visiting side, who left in possession of a consolation point.

In fact team boss Carl Johnson was just as quick to praise the Glasgow riders as his own men after whizzing through the completed races in an hour. Referee Graham Reeve was also complimented for the way in which he handled the fixture, while the Alwalton surface was in excellent shape again after being the cause for an early midweek abandonment against Newcastle.

Johnson said: “We knew that rain was on the way and it was a case of having to get on with things as quickly as possible.

“All credit goes to Glasgow and the referee for enabling us to do that and we’re all pleased to have got to a point where a result could be declared.

“That win has been a long time coming and it is one we really needed to get ourselves going again after a really tough run.

“It was a close contest – as the scoreline shows – but I feel we would have pulled clear in the later races had we been able to get them in.”

Panthers were spearheaded by two of the top British riders of the modern era last night as guest number one Scott Nicholls joined Chris Harris in their ranks.

The two men – with 10 national titles between them – bagged eight points apiece from three outings, but both were eclipsed by another British racer in the home side.

Reserve Simon Lambert top-scored for Panthers with an 8+3 haul from five rides, which included two terrific 5-1s when teaming up with Nicholls, who started his career in Peterborough junior set-up of the 1990s, in heats one and six.

Lambert also inspired a 4-2 when taking the flag in the second instalment, but Glasgow managed three advantages of their own to ensure they remained in contention.

The visitors provided four successive winners at one stage as back-to-back triumphs from their skipper Aaron Summers in shared heats eight and nine – both with Paul Starke in hot pursuit aboard a bike belonging to his skipper Ulrich Ostergaard after problems with his own machinery for the second successive night – were sandwiched by Richard Lawson victories in the seventh and 10th contests, which both earned 4-2s.

It wasn’t until heat 11 that track conditions began to deteriorate with Harris – a man who has thrown caution to the wind throughout his long and successful career – having to adopt a circumspect approach out front.

A 64.0 second time for that race highlighted the effect the rain was having on the surface and it was no surprise when referee Reeve’s visit to the pits resulted in an early finish.

Panthers team boss Johnson added: “We got the win we wanted, the fans were treated to some exciting racing and all the riders are safe and sound , so it’s a pretty good night all round.

“The boys all did their bit and it was great to see Scott back at the place where he started out in speedway.

“He really showed his class and hopefully we’ll get the opportunity to use him again in the coming days.”

Panthers are back on home shale this week when entertain Scunthorpe on Friday (September 8) and Workington on Sunday (September 10).

SCORES

PANTHERS: Simon Lambert 8+3, Chris Harris 8, Scott Nicholls (guest) 8, Ulrich Ostergaard 6+1, Paul Starke 4, Tom Bacon 1, Rider replacement for Bradley Wilson-Dean.

GLASGOW: Aaron Summers 8+1, Richard Lawson 8, Richie Worrall 6, Mason Campton (guest) 4+1, Jack Smith 4, Tom Perry 1+1, Rider replacement for Nike Lunna.

HEATS

1 - Nicholls (61.0), Lambert, Worrall, Smith. 5-1, 5-1.

2 - Lambert (61.7), Smith, Bacon, Perry (ret). 4-2, 9-3.

3 - Ostergaard (60.5), Lawson, Campton, Starke. 3-3, 12-6.

4 - Harris (61.6), Smith, Summers, Bacon. 3-3, 15-9.

5 - Worrall (61.8), Ostergaard, Campton, Starke (ret). 2-4, 17-13.

6 - Nicholls (62.4), Lambert, Summers, Perry. 5-1, 22-14.

7 - Lawson (61.3), Harris, Campton, Bacon. 2-4, 24-18.

8 - Summers (62.6), Starke, Lambert, Smith. 3-3, 27-21.

9 - Summers (62.8), Starke, Ostergaard, Smith. 3-3, 30-24.

10 - Lawson (62.8), Nicholls, Campton, Bacon (fell). 2-4, 32-28.

11 - Worrall (64.0), Worrall, Perry, Lambert. 3-3, 35-31.