Team boss Carl Johnson warned his Peterborough Panthers riders to prepare to be ‘roughed up’ following the first leg of a fiercely contested SGB Championship KO Cup tie yesterday (April 9).
The city side built up a 10-point cushion courtesy of a 49-39 success at the East of England Showground as they roared to a third consecutive victory at the start of the 2017 season.
Reserve capture Bradley Wilson-Dean racked up paid 12 points to lead another solid Panthers showing which featured three other paid double-figure contributions, although the individual star of the meeting was in the Bears line-up with Charles Wright completing a full 15-point maximum.
And Johnson was quick to insist making progress in this competition will be far from a formality in a North-East return clash on Thursday (April 13).
“Redcar thought they were going to come here and win,” said Johnson. “One of their riders was telling everyone that in the pits before the meeting.
“It didn’t quite work out as they planned thanks to another strong performance from ourselves.
“I asked the boys to build up a 10-point lead and that’s exactly what they did, but we know it will be far from easy up at Redcar in the second leg.
“It got a bit tasty at times and they will be keen to rough us up. Our boys need to be prepared for that.”
The major talking points were a pair of spills involving Panthers captain Ulrich Ostergaard and Bears man Tobias Busch in a fifth heat that took four attempts to complete.
The German visitor withdrew with an ankle injury after somersaulting down the back straight in the second re-run.
He appeared to attempt to squeeze through a gap which was closing – a view shared by referee Margaret Vardy as she excluded Busch, but it was not one that went down well with the Redcar camp.
Johnson added: “The throttle goes both ways and the sooner some people learn that, the better it will be.
“You can’t just choose to go full-gas through a gap that’s closing. We never want to see a rider badly hurt, but I feel Busch put himself into a position where he didn’t need to be.”
The same two riders had tangled moments earlier in a second-bend spill in the second re-run with Vardy happy to not apportion blame in that situation and allow both to restart.
Redcar number one Jason Garrity had tumbled out of the initial staging with Ostergaard eventually following in partner Paul Starke for an unopposed 5-0 which turned a four-point deficit into a one-point lead for Panthers.
They quickly increased it with three 5-1s during the next four races – two of which starred Simon Lambert, who looked considerably more like his old, high-scoring self with a paid 10-point haul.
Another full house in heat 13, when number one Jack Holder and Kenneth Hansen impressed, eased Panthers into a 15-point advantage, but Redcar cut their arrears by a third in the final two races.
Jonas B. Andersen led home Panthers’ top-scorer in an awarded 14th contest in which they were the only two finishers. Richard Hall crashed out on the final lap of a re-run after Ostergaard had parked his bike on top of the first-turn fence in the initial staging.
And further joy was to follow for the visitors in the finale with Hansen and Holder unable to repeat their heroics of a few moments earlier as Wright completed his flawless display by leading in Barker for a 5-1.
Bizarrely, Barker appeared to ride straight into Holder as the riders slowed after the race. That suggests there is plenty of spice in a tie in which Panthers will be favourites to progress.
PANTHERS: Bradley Wilson-Dean 11+1, Jack Holder 9+1, Kenneth Hansen 9+1, Simon Lambert 7+3, Paul Starke 7+1, Ulrich Ostergaard 6+2, Tom Bacon 0.
REDCAR: Charles Wright 15 (max), Ben Barker 8+1, Jason Garrity 6, Jonas B. Andersen 5, Ellis Perks 3+1, Richard Hall 2, Tobias Busch 0.
1 - Garrity (60.8), Holder, Lambert, Busch. 3-3, 3-3.
2 - Wilson-Dean (60.6), Hall, Perks, Bacon. 3-3, 6-6.
3 - Wright (60.3), Ostergaard, Andersen, Starke. 2-4, 8-10.
4 - Barker (61.2), Hansen, Perks, Bacon. 2-4, 10-14.
5 - re-run x3 Starke (61.8), Ostergaard, Busch (fell/exc), Garrity (fell/exc). 5-0, 15-14.
6 - Lambert (62.5), Holder, Barker, Hall. 5-1, 20-15.
7 - Wright (61.4), Hansen, Andersen, Bacon. 2-4, 22-19.
8 - Wilson-Dean (63.5), Lambert, Perks, Hall. 5-1, 27-20.
9 - Starke (61.2), Ostergaard, Barker, Hall. 5-1, 32-21.
10 - Wright (62.3), Holder, Lambert, Andersen. 3-3, 35-24.
11 - re-run Garrity (61.8), Hansen, Wilson-Dean, Perks (ret). 3-3, 38-27.
12 - Wright (61.9), Wilson-Dean, Starke, Hall. 3-3, 41-30.
13 - Holder (62.3), Hansen, Barker, Garrity. 5-1, 46-31.
14 - re-run Andersen (awarded), Wilson-Dean, Hall (fell/exc), Ostergaard (fell/exc). 2-3, 48-34.
15 - Wright (62.8), Barker, Hansen, Holder. 1-5, 49-39.