SPEEDWAY: Panthers captain Ulrich is just champion

Panthers captain Ulrich Ostergaard (centre) celebrates his Premier League Riders victory. He is flanked by runner-up Ricky Wells (left) and Craig Cook who finished third. Photo: Andy Garner
Panthers captain Ulrich Ostergaard (centre) celebrates his Premier League Riders victory. He is flanked by runner-up Ricky Wells (left) and Craig Cook who finished third. Photo: Andy Garner
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Peterborough Panthers captain Ulrich Ostergaard produced a stunning triumph to lift the coveted Premier League Riders’ Championship crown yesterday (September 6).

The 34 year-old Danish star enjoyed one of the finest moments of his long career when roaring to glory in the annual individual event at Sheffield.

Ostergaard topped the standings alongside Edinburgh skipper Craig Cook on 12 points after the qualifying heats before winning the final. Workington man Ricky Wells took second with Cook back in third as Somerset ace Josh Grajczonek brought up the rear.

Ostergaard said: “I wasn’t one of the favourites so I was under no pressure.

“I just tried to enjoy the meeting and it went really well on a track I love.

“It is great for myself and my team to win such a big event – and great for Peterborough too.”

Ostergaard had been one of several Panthers riders to struggle the previous night when they crashed to a heavy home defeat at the hands of Somerset.

The 53-39 drubbing by the Rebels on Saturday (September 5) was a third successive loss and resulted in promoter Ged Rathbone demanding a return to form in their final away meeting of the regular season at Rye House tonight (September 7, 7.30pm).

Rathbone said: “I can live with us being beaten if we go down fighting, but I can’t accept the way we have been bulldozed in the last three meetings.

“We have not become a bad team overnight though and we have spoken individually to a number of riders, who we feel have not performed well enough of late.

“We need to get back to being more ruthless and doing whatever it takes to win races.

“A place in the play-offs is a fantastic achievement considering what we have had to deal with in terms of injuries this season, but we want to go further than that.”

Panthers are likely to finish fourth or fifth in the Premier League. Ending up in either of those positions would mean a play-off quarter-final tussle against Sheffield ahead of a likely meeting against table-topping Edinburgh in the semis if successful.

Panthers are without Simon Lambert tonight due to an Elite League fixture clash but they could come up against his namesake Robert.

The teenager, sacked by the city club last month, is scheduled to make his Rye House debut in this fixture.

Panthers have already triumphed in Hertfordshire once this season – a League Cup group clash on Easter Monday.