Peterborough Panthers’ worst performance of the season was followed by a public apology last night (August 27).
The city racers were thumped 61-29 in an East Anglian derby clash at Ipswich . . . and joint boss Dale Allitt pulled no punches in a damning assessment of a dismal display.
Panthers failed to master some tricky track conditions at Foxhall as they managed just one race win and one heat advantage – both of which were provided by recent recruit Ben Barker in the fourth contest.
Allitt said: “Some people might think it was a meeting to forget, but I actually think it is one to remember.
“It is easy to pat each other on the back after a win, but what defines a team is the way it reacts to getting thrashed. That is exactly what happened . . . we got thrashed.
“We were second-best out of the gates, in the first two bends and down the back straight. We were second-best everywhere.
“Supporters have paid money to travel to the meeting and watch a performance like that. We have to apologise to them for what they saw as they deserved better.
“This result has left everyone hurting, but also very keen to respond and I’m sure everyone will see the true spirit of Peterborough Speedway in the next couple of meetings.”
It certainly didn’t make for pretty viewing last night as Panthers were put to the sword from the moment the tapes went up.
One of their former riders – Ipswich number one Danny King – set the tone for his maximum and the home domination by bringing in the easiest of 5-1s in the opener.
Another swiftly followed in a second heat finally completed at the third attempt after Panthers reserve Rafal Konopka suffered the first of his four tumbles and collected the first of his two exclusions.
Even those with the hardest of hearts would have struggled not to feel sorry for the Pole whose only point arrived in a heat nine re-run when he was Panthers’ sole representative – but he even had to remount after a spill to earn that.
Emil Grondal was another man to taste the shale a couple of times. He was taken down by home rider Gino Manzares, who was excluded, in heat three before losing control all on his own after leading the fifth heat for more than two laps.
Fortunately those in behind were able to avoid him as he hit the deck leaving the second bend to continue a miserable first-ever visit to the tight Suffolk track.
Barker is no stranger to it after spearheading the Witches back in 2013 and took his winning streak to five races at the start of his Panthers career by taking the fourth heat honours and inspiring a 4-2.
That proved to be an all-too-brief rally from the visiting team who soon found their arrears reaching double-figures with Barker tasting defeat for the first time in city colours in heat six.
Panthers bosses opted for the obvious move of deploying Barker in black and white in heat nine, but his double points mission went badly wrong as he picked up an exclusion.
Barker was chasing Rohan Tungate when going down in the second bend on the second lap of heat nine and clattering into the Witches ace in the process.
Referee Paul Carrington carried out an inspection of the track in the company of both captains following that incident, but he deemed it to be in an acceptable condition for racing to continue.
In the end, that instalment turned out to be the sixth in a run of eight successive Witches advantages – a streak only broken when Barker and battling reserve Simon Lambert took a 3-3 in heat 13.
Lambert soldiered through a seven-ride shift in only his second meeting back from a month out with a broken shoulder blade.
The effects of the injury were clear to see as he twice retired on the final laps of races where he was at the rear while Ulrich Ostergaard’s return from a broken hand ended prematurely with him being pulled out of his final programmed ride in heat 13 having found the going tough.
Ostergaard stepped in to bring forward his comeback by 24 hours after guest Nicklas Porsing cried off ill.
He was unable to prevent Ipswich from strengthening their grip on the final play-off spot while Panthers dropped to fifth position in the standings and need one more point from four remaining meetings to be completely certain of making the cut.
Their next outing is tonight (August 28 7.30pm) when they travel to a Somerset side already assured of play-off qualification.
Panthers are without last night’s top-scorer Michael Palm Toft due to a fixture clash in Denmark. Carl Wilkinson of Scunthorpe steps in to guest.
IPSWICH: Rohan Tungate 13, Danny King 12 (max), Stefan Nielsen 9+1, Nico Covatti 8, Gino Manzares 7+2, Cameron Heeps 6+2, Ashley Morris 6+1.
PANTHERS: Michael Palm Toft 9+1, Ben Barker 8+1, Simon Lambert 5+1, Ulrich Ostergaard 4, Emil Grondal 2, Rafal Konopka 1, Rider replacement for Lewis Blackbird.