Panthers chief Carl Johnson saluted a terrific team performance as his men brought their rivalry against Redcar to a successful conclusion yesterday (July 23).
The city side eased to a 53-39 victory at the East of England Arena in a meeting which was effectively over in a matter of minutes.
Panthers followed up a gift 5-0 in the opening race with three further 5-1s to open up a 21-point cushion after just six heats.
And while Redcar did rally to restore some pride, Johnson’s side were able to retain their unbeaten record against the Bears with the minimum of fuss.
Panthers boasted five different race-winners while their two other riders – Bradley Wilson-Dean and fast-improving reserve Tom Bacon - were both paid for a victory on a day when skipper Ulrich Ostergaard led the way with a 12+1 haul.
“We got off to the ideal start and we were in control throughout,” said Johnson.
“We’ve not had enough complete team performances this season, but everyone chipped in really well to another good result against Redcar.
“To go through six meetings against them in unbeaten style is a great effort. The only disappointment is that we didn’t win them all, but I’ll take five victories and an away draw.
“I’ve always maintained that we can be devastating when having all seven guys firing at the same time and we saw that for part of this meeting.
“Redcar rallied to cut our advantage down to 10 points at one stage, but there was never a moment where I feared they were going to cause us problems.”
Bears number one Jason Garrity crashed out on the opening lap of the opening race with partner Ellis Perks already having retired.
That left Panthers guest number one Rory Schlein and Wilson-Dean to complete an exhibition in the re-run to collect a 5-0.
Back-to-back full houses then tightened the hosts’ grip on the contest. Simon Lambert launched arguably his best performance of the season by leading home reserve partner Tom Bacon in heat two before a switch-round in the middle order reaped instant rewards as Paul Starke eased clear with his captain, Ostergaard, in the next race.
A Chris Harris-inspired 4-2 and a 5-1 from the Schlein/Wilson-Dean combination then eased Panthers into what was effectively a match-winning advantage with almost two-thirds of the action still to come.
Star Redcar man Ben Barker’s tactical ride in hest seven signalled the start of a mid-meeting Redcar revival as they reduced their arrears by more than half.
Barker inspired a 7-2 in that race before Ellis Perks took the flag in a 4-2 in the next contest and while Panthers replied in kind when Ostergaard came home in front in heat nine, a 5-1 for visiting pair Barker and Jonas B. Andersen followed in the next instalment.
It was a run of results which gave the Bears hope of snatching an unlikely consolation point and a pair of shared races – won by Garrity and Barker – did nothing to change that.
But Panthers delivered back-to-back 4-2s to firstly seal victory and then ensure Redcar departed empty-handed again.
Schlein completed a hat-trick of wins when taking the flag in heat 13 and Lambert ensured his smart shift was book-ended by successes when smoothly winning the penultimate contest.
A meaningless yet marvellous finale brought the curtain down on an intense rivalry (for this season at least) with Barker completing a high-scoring meeting with victory as the remaining three riders fought over the minor places.
Panthers pair Ostergaard and Harris eventually claimed them as they fought off the race-long attentions of Andersen.
The victory moved Panthers to within seven points of the play-off spots, although they have ridden two more meetings than current fourth-placed side Sheffield.
The city side now face a near three-week break from league racing until returning with three away meetings in as many days at Edinburgh on August 11, Berwick on August 12 and Newcastle on August 13.
Panthers stage the annual SGB Championship Fours event at the East of England Arena before then on August 6.
PETERBOROUGH: Ulrich Ostergaard 12+1, Rory Schlein (guest) 9, Chris Harris 8+2, Simon Lambert 8, Bradley Wilson-Dean 7+2, Paul Starke 5, Tom Bacon 4+2.
REDCAR: Ben Barker 16, Charles Wright 7, Jonas B. Andersen 5+1, Ellis Perks 5, Jason Garrity 4+1, Danny Ayres 2, Tobias Busch 0.
1 - re-run Schlein (61.0), Wilson-Dean, Garrity (f.exc), Perks (ret). 5-0, 5-0.
2 - Lambert (62.4), Bacon, Ayres, Busch (exc). 5-1, 10-1.
3 - Starke (61.4), Ostergaard, Barker, Andersen. 5-1, 15-2.
4 - re-run Harris (61.1), Wright, Bacon, Ayres. 4-2, 19-4.
5 - Ostergaard (61.3), Perks, Garrity, Starke. 3-3, 22-7.
6 - re-run Schlein (61.4), Wilson-Dean, Wright, Busch. 5-1, 27-8.
7 - Barker (t/r, 61.8), Harris, Andersen, Lambert. 2-7, 29-15.
8 - Perks (62.4), Wilson-Dean, Ayres, Bacon. 2-4, 31-19.
9 - Ostergaard (63.8), Wright, Starke, Busch. 4-2, 35-21.
10 - Barker (63.6), Andersen, Wilson-Dean, Schlein (ret). 1-5, 36-26.
11 - re-run Garrity (62.2), Lambert, Harris, Perks. 3-3, 39-29.
12 - Barker (62.2), Ostergaard, Bacon, Ayres. 3-3, 42-32.
13 - Schlein (awarded), Wright, Harris, Garrity (ret). 4-2, 46-34.
14 - Lambert (63.2), Andersen, Starke, Ayres. 4-2, 50-36.
15 - Barker (62.7), Ostergaard, Harris, Andersen. 3-3, 53-39.