Peterborough Panthers have been caught up in yet another speedway shambles.
The city club have been blocked from tracking Danish racer Ulrich Ostergaard in their re-arranged SGB Championship play-offs semi-final, second leg against Lakeside tonight (October 24) – despite initially being told he could ride.
Ostergaard sat out due to illness on Sunday (October 21) when this meeting was abandoned after eight heats due to a floodlight failure at the Hammers’ adopted Rye House base.
Any rider who misses a meeting in those circumstances is hit with a seven-day suspension according to Speedway Control Board (SCB) regulations.
But Panthers were of the view that the abandoned meeting would be classed as not taking place – thus making Ostergaard eligible tonight.
Owner Ged Rathbone has revealed they were initially given the thumbs-up by the SCB on Monday (October 22) to use Ostergaard, but a U-turn then followed this morning with Berwick man Theo Pijper stepping as a guest at short-notice.
Rathbone said: “We did this the right way and after speaking to Ulrich to establish his fitness, we asked the question on Monday over whether he could ride tonight, and we had an email from the SCB to say ‘that’s fine.’
“Then at 8.24pm last night (Tuesday) we received another email to say he can’t ride, and that the decision is final.
“That put us in a terrible situation and after spending until midnight contacting almost every Championship rider, none of whom wanted to guest for us, it looked like we would have to use a National League rider tonight.
“There were literally three riders we were waiting to hear back from, and we are grateful to Theo who took the booking in mid-morning and has agreed to drive straight down from Scotland, where he lives, to ride for us.
“Needless to say it’s another frustrating and expensive episode, and one which really shouldn’t have happened.”
Opponents Lakeside had publicly objected to Panthers using Ostergaard tonight.
They cited a similar situation earlier in the season when their skipper Richard Lawson picked up a seven-day ban for missing a meeting at Workington through illness even though it was abandoned after two races.
It now means Panthers are again only able to track two of their regular riders – skipper Simon Lambert and Emil Grondal – tonight.
They call in Thomas Jorgensen, Ash Morris, Carl Wilkinson and Pijper as guests and operate rider replacement at number one.
It looks set to be a cruel end to a season which promised much success until they were hit by a stack of serious injuries.