Panthers are on the right track thanks to sponsors

Work being carried out on the track at the East of  England Showground.

Work being carried out on the track at the East of England Showground.

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The East of England Showground has received a major makeover as part of a winter of change at Panthers.

Promoter Ged Rathbone completed his takeover of the club early in the new year after a new-look team had been assembled to challenge for glory in the first SGB Championship campaign.

And now, after a couple of seasons of struggle on home shale, attention has turned to the Alwalton track which underwent extensive work during last week.

The club’s main sponsors, T Balfe Construction, and sister company Richmond Plant Hire, provided the machinery and man-power for the operation which Rathbone reckons will ensure the Showground remains one of the top racing venues in the country.

He said: “It was a big job and one that was long overdue. I’m led to believe it is more than a decade since this sort of work last took place at the Showground.

“Our brilliant sponsors, T Balfe Construction, and their sister company, Richmond Plant Hire, have provided the expertise and the equipment to upgrade the track.

“They have done a complete sweep of the track with around 150 tonnes of shale being removed from it.

“The base was then levelled out with a camber created which will give the effect of banking through the corners.

“The end result will be a better surface for riders and even greater entertainment for fans.

“It is a second terrific gesture by David Balfe (the managing director of T Balfe Construction) this winter. He also paid his two-year sponsorship deal up front to allow us to complete the purchase of track equipment following my takeover.”

Panthers’ track staff will now complete the revamp by working on the top surface of the track in readiness for the new campaign.

The 2017 season is now only a month away with Panthers staging their Press & Practice event on Friday, March 17.

A Challenge clash against SGB Premiership side Coventry Bees follows 48 hours later on Sunday, March 19.

The club’s first competitive outing of the new season is a home SGB Championship showdown against Scunthorpe on Friday, March 24.

They have also added a tasty away Challenge at local rivals King’s Lynn on Wednesday, March 29 which will see the return of the famous A47 derby.

The two clubs last met in 2013 during Panthers’ final season in the old Elite League before dropping back into the second tier. Lynn have remained in the top-flight.

Rathbone said: “We have organised a couple of terrific meetings against SGB Premiership clubs at the start of the season.

“Of course the main objective is to give the riders valuable track-time, but it will also be a great opportunity for them to show what they can do against top opposition.”