Lewis Blackbird starred as Panthers continued their flawless start to the Premier League season - and he won an important personal battle in the process.
The 28 year-old delivered his best display of 2015 when racking up paid 12 points as the city racers triumphed 52-40 at Plymouth last Friday to chalk up a third successive league victory.
Blackbird has boosted his average by almost half-a-point during the opening weeks of the new campaign – no mean feat for a rider returning to action after serious injuries.
But he reveals it has also been a difficult time as he battles to find his best form.
Blackbird admitted: “It would be wrong to say I haven’t been enjoying my racing, but I haven’t been feeling quite right.
“I’ve been going through everything, mechanically and mentally, behind closed doors to try to put my finger on what is not quite right.
“I’ve even been doing things like putting the same boot on first when I get changed before a meeting.
“It’s been frustrating because I have been scoring points although I know I have not been riding as well as I know I can.
“My father and other people around me just told me to relax and re-assured me it would come good.
“Then something just clicked during the meeting at Plymouth. I’m not sure what it was, but suddenly I just felt more comfortable on the bike.
“I had my best meeting of the season for Panthers there and then had a really good night at Wolverhampton on Monday so it’s happy days really.
“I’m lucky to be part of awesome teams in both the Elite League and the Premier League. Wolverhampton are doing a lot better than many people predicted while we have a very strong side at Panthers.
“We’ve made a great start to the league season and hopefully we can carry on winning meetings home and away.”
Blackbird will put his team commitments to one side tonight when he chases individual glory.
The 28 year-old is bidding to reach a second successive British Final when lining up in a semi at Sheffield.
The top seven finishers at Owlerton will make it through to the national showpiece at Wolverhampton on June 15.
Blackbird scored four points in his debut British Final appearance last year and is aiming for better this time around.
He added: “It is all about making progress year on year, but the first job is getting through the semi.
“I’ve had some decent meetings at Sheffield in the past and a few poor ones. It will be a case of seeing how I go on the night and hopefully having four or five decent rides.”
Ollie Greenwood is one of the two reserves at Sheffield.