A young man is coming of age at Peterborough Panthers.
He goes by the name of Jack Holder, he is the younger brother of a former world champion, and he is now demonstrating why plenty of shrewd judges also believe he can reach the pinnacle of the sport.
Holder powered to a first maximum in British speedway last night (June 16) with a flawless 15-point haul to help Panthers take command of their SGB Championship KO Cup quarter-final against Scunthorpe courtesy of a 54-36 first-leg success.
The 21 year-old reeled off five successive victories in seriously emphatic style. Most were won by the sort of distance more commonly associated with a Formula One race than a four-lap blast around the East of England Arena.
“It was one of those nights where everything just went to plan,” said Holder. “I didn’t have to change a thing on the bike and it was just a case of putting myself in the right place on the track.
“I’ve been so close to getting a maximum before and I’m pumped to have done it. Hopefully there will be a few more of them to follow in the future.
“It’s a great feeling to be unbeaten at my home track. It shows I’m getting it sussed out now.
“We don’t always have the same raceday or start-time, so the track tends to be pretty different from one meeting to the next.
“It was really good to have a bit of dirt on it, but we have to be careful not to make it too grippy. We need to find a happy medium that works for all seven guys.”
Holder’s exploits helped Panthers record the biggest victory of the campaign for the second successive meeting – this result slightly bettering the 54-38 league victory against Berwick last Sunday.
And just as on that occasion, Holder was joined in double-figures by two other riders. New number one Chris Harris, who joined forces with Holder for 5-1s in two of the final three races, and captain Ulrich Ostergaard went unbeaten by opposing riders following their opening outings.
Both men also clocked the fastest time seen at the Showground all season with the skipper taking the flag in 59.4 seconds in heat five only for Harris to go even quicker with a 59.1 effort in the very next race moments later.
The recent capture of Harris could prove to be a pivotal moment – not just in Panther’ season, but also the entire SGB Championship. His introduction – at the expense of Kenneth Hansen – has turned a top five which looked decidedly weak into one of Herculean strength.
Such was Panthers’ dominance last night, Scunthorpe provided only two heat winners (Michael Palm Toft in the opener and guest Todd Kurtz a couple of races later) and couldn’t claim a single advantage.
Had Paul Starke not tumbled out, when holding second spot and on a 5-1 in heat nine, the winning margin would have been even greater. Starke slammed into the air fence after losing control in the third bend, but picked himself up to sign off with a victory in his final race.
Bradley Wilson-Dean also bagged a win in his second outing in the main body of the team, while reserve guest Zach Wajtknecht obliged in heat two.
He was also gifted another point when visiting rider Carl Wilkinson tumbled out of the penultimate race, and reserve partner Tom Bacon contributed a valuable trio of third places.
It all added up to a powerful performance with Holder unsurprisingly earning the majority of the plaudits from team boss Carl Johnson.
“Jack was simply awesome and that’s been coming for a while,” said Johnson. “The pressure has been lifted off his shoulders since we brought Chris in and I think that’s showing in his riding.
“The way I see it, we have two number ones - it’s just that Jack is riding at number five. We’ve also got a captain who is flying at the moment, and other riders winning races in every meeting.
“Bradley has stepped up nicely into the main body of the team while Paul had a tough night with a crash, but showed great character to go out and win his final heat.
“The two boys at reserve also picked up points and we’re now showing everyone what we’re about.”
Johnson will be hoping that continues tomorrow (June 18) when Panthers entertain Sheffield in a league clash at the East of England Arena, 5pm.
PANTHERS: Jack Holder 15 (max), Chris Harris 11+3, Ulrich Ostergaard 11, Bradley Wilson-Dean 6, Paul Starke 4+1, Zach Wajtknecht (guest) 4, Tom Bacon 3.
SCUNTHORPE: Josh Auty 8, Michael Palm Toft 6+1, Todd Kurtz (guest) 6+1, Ryan Douglas 6, Tero Aarnio 5+1, Carl Wilkinson 4+2, Ben Hopwood (guest) 1+1.
1 - Palm Toft (60.3), Wilson-Dean, Harris, Aarnio. 3-3, 3-3.
2 - Wajtknecht (60.8), Wilkinson, Bacon, Hopwood. 4-2, 7-5.
3 - Kurtz (60.8), Ostergaard, Starke, Douglas (fell). 3-3, 10-8.
4 - Holder (60.5), Auty, Bacon, Hopwood. 4-2, 14-10.
5 - Ostergaard (59.4), Aarnio, Palm Toft, Starke. 3-3, 17-13.
6 - Harris (59.1), Auty, Wilkinson, Wilson-Dean. 3-3, 20-16.
7 - Holder (59.7), Douglas, Kurtz, Wajtknecht. 3-3, 23-19.
8 - Wilson-Dean (61.6), Aarnio, Bacon, Wilkinson. 4-2, 27-21.
9 - Ostergaard (awarded), Auty, Hopwood, Starke (fell/exc). 3-3, 30-21.
10 - Harris (60.1), Douglas, Wilson-Dean, Kurtz. 4-2, 34-26.
11 - Holder (60.8), Palm Toft, Aarnio, Wajtknecht. 3-3, 37-29.
12 - Starke (61.9), Kurtz, Wilkinson, Bacon. 3-3, 40-32.
13 - Holder (60.7), Harris, Auty, Palm Toft. 5-1, 45-33.
14 - Ostergaard (62.0), Douglas, Wajtknecht, Wilkinson (fell). 4-2, 49-35.
15 - Holder (60.9), Harris, Auty, Palm Toft (ret). 5-1, 54-36.