PREMIER LEAGUE FOURS: Extravagant success for Panthers (even though they finished third out of four)
Peterborough Panthers promoter Ged Rathbone declared the biggest-ever Premier League Fours extravaganza a huge success - even though his own team failed to provide a silver lining.
The city outfit were seeded straight into yesterday’s final which brought the curtain down on a two-day feast of action at the East of England Showground.
Panthers’ quartet of Ulrich Ostergaard, Craig Cook, Nikolaj Busk Jakobsen and Tom Perry took to the track with high hopes of lifting this crown for the first time since 1998 and securing a first team trophy of any sort since 2007 - and they were one of three teams who went into the last race still with a chance of glory.
Panthers sat two points behind Plymouth and Workington, but there was no fairytale finish as skipper Ostergaard dropped to the rear after making the fastest start.
Instead it was Plymouth celebrating as young Aussie ace Brady Kurtz blazed clear to secure victory for a club which briefly went out of business on the eve of the 2016 season.
Showground specialist Kenneth Hansen of Workington, so often a star guest for Panthers, gave chase, but he lost too much ground when having to suffer behind a toiling Ostergaard for a half-a-lap.
Plymouth tallied 30 points with Workington on 29, Panthers on 25 and Berwick a distant last with just 12.
“It would have been the perfect finish if we could have won the trophy,” admitted Rathbone. “But it wasn’t to be in the end.
“I thought it might be our day because we had the lead in the first half of the final, but speedway is the real winner.
“The whole event was a fantastic success and it gives us something to build on for the future.”
Rathbone refused to be drawn on attendance figures. He was only willing to describe the turnout as ‘good’.
It was estimated there were around 2,500 fans present on Sunday - a higher number than the previous day in which they event had kicked off with three Fours semi-finals across 36 heats.
There was also an 18-man, 21-heat individual meeting to start the Sunday action with plenty of exciting racing despite a quite befuddling format.
That was eventually won by Scunthorpe rider Ryan Douglas in a re-run final after Glasgow’s Richie Worrall had been excluded for knocking off his twin brother, Steve, of Newcastle.
Steve Worrall took second when the race was completed at the second attempt with former Panthers rider Ben Barker also on the podium in third.
The most bizarre moment arrived after final qualifying heat when Redcar duo Lasse Bjerre and Jonas B. Andersen had to be pulled apart before they could come to blows!
British Speedway Promoters’ Association (BSPA) vice-chairman, Rob Godfrey, said: “Huge credit has to go to the Peterborough promotion and track staff for what they have done with an event that desperately needed a boost.
“The racing has been out of this world and fair play to the riders and the spectators as well.”
PREMIER LEAGUE FOURS
1 Plymouth 30 (Jack Holder 11, Brady Kurtz 7, Todd Kurtz 7, Kyle Newman 5).
2 Workington 29 (Kenneth Hansen 10, Claus Vissing 7, Ricky Werlls 7, Rasmus Jensen 5).
3 Peterborough 25 (Craig Cook 11, Nikolaj Busk Jakobsen 7, Ulrich Ostergaard 4, Tom Perry 2, Emil Grondal (res) 1).
4 Berwick 12 (Kevin Doolan 4, Matthew Wethers 4, Thomas Jorgensen 3, Theo Pijper 1).