Speedway - Lambert plays the leading role as Panthers win a TV thriller

Simon Lambert on his way to winning heat one against Glasgow. Picture: David Lowndes
Simon Lambert on his way to winning heat one against Glasgow. Picture: David Lowndes
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High-paced, action-packed, thrill-a-minute drama that kept the viewer hooked right up until the big finish - if only the nation’s scriptwriters could serve up the sort of entertainment Peterborough Panthers can.

The city racers were involved in another television thriller when pipping fellow Premier League title hopefuls Glasgow Tigers 48-45 at the East of England Showground last night (June 24).

And star of the Panthers cast in their first small screen appearance for 14 months was battered and bruised reserve Simon Lambert, who powered to a match-winning haul of 14+1 points from reserve in his comeback meeting following a 10-day lay-off.

Lambert was nothing short of sensational as he regularly punched above his weight to claim the scalps of higher-ranked opponents. He’s now rivalling namesake Robert as the club’s most impressive signing of the winter.

His bumper haul included a hat-trick of heat wins. The first was achieved in heat one in a time just one tenth of a second outside the Premier League track record and at a moment’s notice, while the last arrived in heat 14 and looked like sealing victory until partner Michael Palm Toft’s bike packed up on the final lap when they held a 5-1.

That was one of a few hitches to hamper Panthers’ progress. Guest number one Brady Kurtz ploughed into the tapes in the opening heat and was then given his marching orders from the 10th contest after being deemed the guilty party as flying Glasgow reserve Dimitri Berge – the son of former Panthers title-winner Philippe – was left on the deck.

Visiting pair Berge and Aaron Summers were subsequently awarded a 5-1 in that race as they reduced the visitors’ arrears to one point.

They had been as far adrift as 10 points after five races - Nick Morris tumbled out of the lead in heat five to gift Robert Lambert and Palm Toft a 5-1 - before deploying Richard Lawson on a successful tactical-ride mission in heat six.

That was the first of seven successive heat wins from visiting riders with three of them going to Berge, who followed a couple of fact-finding last places by racking up 10+1 in his remaining riders.

But Kurtz found his form to inspire a 4-2 in a crunch heat 13 showdown to give Panthers a bit more breathing space and they looked set to finish the job until Palm Toft agonisingly slowed out of second spot in the penultimate contest.

In the end they had to survive a last-heat decider to secure victory and leapfrog Glasgow into the third place in the Premier League standings although the Scottish side were certainly deserving of their consolation point.

Chosen men Kurtz and Robert Lambert arrived at the tapes for the finale with the task of avoiding being on the receiving end of a 5-1.

They did briefly find themselves in that predicament on the first lap as eventual winner Morris and Lawson burst through the opening couple of corners, but both men found a way past Lawson to pack the minor places and finish the job.

“Making life hard for ourselves is becoming a habit,” said relieved Panthers promoter Ged Rathbone. “But it was another fantastic meeting for the supporters and the TV viewers which came complete with a last-race decider.

“You can’t ask for a lot more than that and I’m just delighted to come out of it with a win against a very good Glasgow team.

“Everyone did their bit on a night when a few things didn’t go our way again, but the performance of Simon at reserve was nothing short of phenomenal.

“He is going from strength to strength and I just wish we could find another rider like him!”

While Simon Lambert took centre-stage, reserve partner Ollie Greenwood slipped out of the Panthers team in typically meek fashion.

Greenwood managed a couple of third places in his three rides while failing to capitalise on a series of errors from Glasgow man David Howe in his other outing.

His replacement Rafal Konopka should be in position by the time Panthers return to action when entertaining Plymouth at the East of England Showground on Sunday (5pm).

SCORES

PANTHERS: Simon Lambert 14+1, Robert Lambert 9+2, Lewis Blackbird 6+2, Brady Kurtz (guest) 6+1, Ulrich Ostergaard 6, Michael Palm Toft 5+2, Ollie Greenwood 2+2.

GLASGOW: Richard Lawson 11, Dimitri Berge 10+1, Aaron Summers 8+1, Nick Morris 8, Victor Palovaara 5, David Howe 3, Rider replacement for James Sarjeant.