Huge crowd watched Rebels storm the East of England Arena

Panthers rider Charles Wright in action for Redcar in the Championship Fours. Photo: David Lowndes.
Panthers rider Charles Wright in action for Redcar in the Championship Fours. Photo: David Lowndes.
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Peterborough Panthers promoter Carl Johnson hailed the SGB Championship Fours as a huge success yesterday (June 23) . . . even though none of the club’s riders had anything to celebrate.

Somerset Rebels reigned supreme in the 34-heat extravaganza at the East of England Arena as the top riders in the second tier of the sport did battle on the super-fast city track.

Panthers rider Aaron Summers in action for Berwick in the Championship Fours at the East of England Arena. Photo: David Lowndes.

Panthers rider Aaron Summers in action for Berwick in the Championship Fours at the East of England Arena. Photo: David Lowndes.

Former Grand Prix star Chris Harris, who helped Panthers to glory in the corresponding event two years ago, was among the successful Somerset quartet along with Nico Covatti, Rory Schlein and Todd Kurtz.

But there was no joy for the current Panthers men in action in front of a crowd estimated to be in the region of 3,000.

Charles Wright managed five points for Redcar, but Scott Nicholls (Leicester), Josh Bates (Leicester) and Aaron Summers (Berwick) could only score two apiece as their sides went out at the semi-final stage.

Johnson said: “A lot of hard work went into staging the event and a lot of people deserve a lot of credit for such a fantastic occasion.

Panthers rider Josh Bates in action for Leicester during the Championship Fours. Photo: David Lowndes.

Panthers rider Josh Bates in action for Leicester during the Championship Fours. Photo: David Lowndes.

“The fans turned out in force, the racing got better and better as the day went on and Somerset were very deserving winners.

“I get on really well with the Somerset team manager Garry May and I’ve very happy for him and his team to take the title that we had won for the previous two years.

“I’m sure our boys are disappointed they couldn’t help their teams win it, but the competition was very tough with so many of the top riders from the SGB Championship involved.”

Schlein’s second place in the closing race of the 12-heat final secured the honours for Somerset with 22 points before Sheffield number one Danny King saw off Glasgow man Craig Cook in a run-off to secure second spot after both sides finished on 19. Eastbourne brought up the rear with 12.

King also had the consolation of breaking his own Alwalton track record. He clocked 57.3 seconds when winning the second heat of the semi-final stage – a tenth of a second quicker than his previous mark set earlier this season when racing for his top-flight club, Ipswich, against Panthers.

Huntingdon-based King will make another short trip up the A1 to Alwalton when Ipswich face Panthers in the SGB Premiership on Monday (July 1).

SEMI-FINAL

Qualifying teams: Eastbourne 15, Glasgow 15, Sheffield 15, Somerset 14.

Eliminated teams: Edinburgh 13, Leicester 12, Newcastle 11, Scunthorpe 10, Redcar 10, Berwick 9, Birmingham 8.

FINAL

SOMERSET (22) - Nico Covatti 8, Chris Harris 7, Rory Schlein 6, Todd Kurtz 1.

SHEFFIELD (19) - Danny King 7, Kyle Howarth 4, Ty Proctor 4, Broc Nicol 4, Drew Kemp 0.

GLASGOW (19) - Craig Cook 9, Rasmus Jensen 5, Paul Starke 4, Claus Vissing 1.

EASTBOURNE (12) - Richard Lawson 6, Edward Kennett 4, Lewis Kerr 2, Kyle Newman 0.

* King (Sheffield) beat Cook (Glasgow) in run-off for second place.