MEETING REPORT: City riders suffer in Bandit country

Panthers rider Simon Lambert broke his hand in Berwick.
Panthers rider Simon Lambert broke his hand in Berwick.

Peterborough Panthers’ injury crisis took another turn for the worse as they crashed to defeat at rock-bottom SGB Championship side Berwick last night (May 20).

The Bandits had failed to win any of their previous 10 league meetings so far in 2017, but they saw off a depleted city side 50-40 at Shielfield Park.

Paul Starke top scored for Panthers in Berwick.

Paul Starke top scored for Panthers in Berwick.

The outcome was no great surprise given that the city racers headed north without three of their regular riders and then lost another to injury during the meeting.

Simon Lambert suffered a suspected broken left hand in a heat 10 tangle with Berwick man Jye Etheridge, who also withdrew with shoulder damage.

It was terrible timing for both rider and club with Lambert looking back to his best after gathering 6+2 in his first three riders at the big northern track. He joins a casualty list which already includes Danish ace Kenneth Hansen (fractured breastbrone and rib damage) and New Zealand champion Bradley Wilson-Dean (fractured hand).

Team boss Carl Johnson admitted: “The last thing we needed was another injury when we’ve already got two guys out.

“Losing Simon just when it looked like he was getting back to his best shows that speedway can be a cruel sport.

“It was a racing incident and neither rider was to blame. Simon’s hand already has metalwork in it from a previous injury, and it swelled up straight away.

“He’s going to hospital this morning for x-rays and we’re keeping our fingers crossed the news is positive.”

Panthers led for a portion of the meeting after being fired into the driving seat by a 5-1 from guest number one Lasse Bjerre and Lambert in heat five.

A 4-2 in heat eight, led by the impressive Paul Starke, stretched the advantage to four points, but it was wiped out by a Bandits full house in the next race.

Then, with the sides deadlocked, Panthers were dealt a major blow by the loss of Lambert in heat 10. The 4-2 for Berwick in the re-run was the first of four gains in the final six heats which earned Berwick their opening success of the campaign.

“We’re disappointed to lose at a track that has been a happy hunting ground for us,” added Johnson. “But we pushed Berwick hard with a patched-up team.

“An injury when already running the rider replacement facility puts a team under massive pressure and we just couldn’t cope towards the end of the meeting.”

Starke top-scored for Panthers with 11 points while Bjerre nine and Ostergaard added eight. Lambert’s 6+2 was matched by reserve guest Ash Morris, who worked tirelessly for the cause. Morris took four rides in the space of five heats late in the meeting.

But it proved to be an expensive night for Tom Bacon, who blew two engines while failing to score.

SCORES

BERWICK: Nick Morris 14, Dany Gappmaier 13+1, Kevin Doolan 7+1, David Howe 7, Lewis Bridger 4, Jye Etheridge 3+1 (withdrawn), Lee Payne 2.

PANTHERS: Paul Starke 11+1, Lasse Bjerre (guest) 9, Ulrich Ostergaard 8, Simon Lambert 6+2 (withdrawn), Ashley Morris (guest) 6+2, Tom Bacon 0, Rider replacement for Kenneth Hansen.