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Panthers 55, Sullivan’s Seven 38 - Pedersen stars but Panthers take the honours

Kenneth Bjerre gets Panthers off to a cracking start by roaring home in heat one ahead of Ryan Sullivan. Photo: Alan Storer/Peterborough ET (METP-19-03-12AS201)

Kenneth Bjerre gets Panthers off to a cracking start by roaring home in heat one ahead of Ryan Sullivan. Photo: Alan Storer/Peterborough ET (METP-19-03-12AS201)

 

Challenge speedway report: BIG names, a bumper crowd and the right result – Panthers couldn’t have asked for much more on opening night.

The new-look city team breezed to a comfortable success over a star-studded set of opponents, spearheaded by all-time Peterborough great Ryan Sullivan and reigning world champion Greg Hancock, in their first outing of 2012.

Panthers didn’t record a single last place – no mean feat over 15 heats of speedway – as the curtain went up in thoroughly pleasing style.

Skipper and number one Kenneth Bjerre led by example with a paid dozen and all seven men chipped in with handy scores.

Only reserve Rene Bach failed to record an outright race victory and a reproduction of this sort of solid team showing will see the East of England Showground remain a fortress in the coming weeks and months.

It’s no wonder co-boss Jan Staechmann, who took sole charge of Panthers last night, was wearing a big smile at the climax of the contest.

The former Danish national chief said: “It was a very encouraging way for the season to start. There were some really good performances.

“It can sometimes be difficult to attract a good crowd to a meeting like this, but the promotion clearly did their homework on that front and the turnout helped to make it a good night.”

While the hosts excelled as a unit, it was a member of the select opposition who stole the individual limelight.

Returning legend Sullivan and world king Hancock were both eclipsed by Nicki Pedersen - a rider who spent the majority of last season as Panthers number one until being acrimoniously axed.

Pedersen, himself twice a world champion, was in imperious form as he stormed to a flawless five-ride, 18-point maximum but it was predictably Sullivan who received by far the loudest cheers of the night.

The Aussie ace didn’t disappoint on his fleeting return either, delivering plenty of glimpses of the magic that made him such a hit in these parts during a career which spanned 11 years and saw him amass more than 4,000 points.

Sullivan produced a fine pass on Lasse Bjerre for second spot behind his elder brother Kenneth in the opening and then slammed in victories in his next two rides.

Unfortunately his final involvement was to be a disappointing one as bike trouble forced him into an early exit from heat 13 and Sullivan admitted it was tough going on his old Alwalton stomping ground.

He said: “It wasn’t a bad night for me as I scored a few points, but I must admit it wasn’t a lot of fun out there. The track was like ice in some places and very deep in others which made it hard to ride, but it was good to be back here again.”

Scores:

Panthers

Kenneth Bjerre 11+2 (3, 3, 1*, 2*, 2)

Lasse Bjerre 7 (1, 1, 3, 2)

Olly Allen 6+3 (1*, 1*, 3, 1*)

Jesper B. Monberg 8 (2, 2, 1, 3)

Linus Sundstrom 9+2 (1*, 2, 2, 3, 1*)

Richard Lawson 7+3 (3, 1*, 1*, 2*)

Rene Bach 7+1 (1, 2, 2*, 2)

Team manager: Jan Staechmann

Sullivan’s Seven

Ryan Sullivan 8 (2, 3, 3, R)

Cameron Heeps 0 (0, R, 0, 0)

Nicki Pedersen 18 (3, 3, 6 t/r, 3, 3)

Richard Hall 1 (0, 0, 0, 1)

Greg Hancock 8 (3, 2, 2, 1, 0)

Rohan Tungate 2 (2, 0, 0, 0)

Kyle Newman 1 (0, R, 1, 0)

Team manager: Trevor Swales

HEATS

1 – K. BJERRE (59.4), Sullivan, L. Bjerre, Heeps. 4-2, 4-2.

2 – LAWSON (61.6), Tungate, Bach, Newman. 4-2, 8-4.

3 – PEDERSEN (61.0), Monberg, Allen, Hall. 3-3, 11-7.

4 – HANCOCK (61.4), Bach, Sundstrom, Newman (ret). 3-3, 14-10.

5 – SULLIVAN (61.8), Monberg, Allen, Heeps (ret). 3-3, 17-13.

6 – K. BJERRE (61.6), Hancock, L. Bjerre, Tungate. 4-2, 21-15.

7 – PEDERSEN (61.3), Sundstrom, Lawson, Hall. 3-3, 24-18.

8 – L. BJERRE (63.0), Bach, Newman, Heeps. 5-1, 29-19.

9 – ALLEN (62.2), Hancock, Monberg, Tungate. 4-2, 33-21.

10 – PEDERSEN (t/r, 60.0), L. Bjerre, K. Bjerre, Hall. 3-6, 36-27.

11 – SULLIVAN (61.9), Sundstrom, Lawson, Heeps. 3-3, 39-30.

12 - PEDERSEN (61.8), Bach, Allen, Tungate. 3-3, 42-33.

13 – SUNDSTROM (62.5), K. Bjerre, Hancock, Sullivan (ret). 5-1, 47-34.

14 – MONBERG (62.6), Lawson, Hall, Newman. 5-1, 52-35.

15 – PEDERSEN (61.8), K. Bjerre, Sundstrom, Hancock. 3-3, 55-38.

Key: * = paid points, R = retired, t/r = tactical ride.

 

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