Speedway preview: What the Panthers are up against in 2014

Speedway action from Peterborough Panthers v Rye House Rockets on Tuesday: Ryan Fisher (Red) leads Lewis Blackbird (Blue) in Heat 1. Photo: Alan Storer EMN-140318-212851001
Speedway action from Peterborough Panthers v Rye House Rockets on Tuesday: Ryan Fisher (Red) leads Lewis Blackbird (Blue) in Heat 1. Photo: Alan Storer EMN-140318-212851001
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As part of our season preview, Mark Plummer looks at Peterborough Panthers’ Premier League rivals for 2014:

Don’t miss our 6-page Panthers’ season preview in this week’s Peterborough Telegraph, out Thursday, 20 March.


Stadium: Shielfield Park

Preferred race-night: Saturday

Team manager: Ian Rae

Line-up: Kevin Doolan, Claus Vissing, Matthew Wethers, David Bellego, Matej Kus, Steen Jensen, Liam Carr.

Key man: Matej Kus is a quality rider who could easily re-discover his best form after a winter move from Redcar.

Bookies odds: 10/1

Plummer’s prediction: The Bandits need to be harder to beat at home than they have been in recent seasons, but even achieving that goal won’t turn them into play-off contenders. They look to lack a bit of scope at both ends of the order.


Stadium: Armadale

Preferred race-night: Friday

Team manager: Alan Bridgett

Line-up: Craig Cook, Sam Masters, Derek Sneddon, Justin Sedgmen, Max Fricke, Aaron Fox, Steve Worrall.

Key man: Sam Masters - back in Britain after missing 2013 and will need to get straight back into the groove.

Bookies odds: 9/2

Plummer’s prediction: Spearheaded by arguably the best individual rider in the league, Craig Cook, the Scottish capital side are almost certain to be contenders to capture their fourth Premier League crown in the space of just 11 years.


Stadium: Ashfield

Preferred race-night: Sunday

Team manager: Stewart Dickson

Line-up: Kevin Wolbert, Theo Pijper, Rusty Harrison, Mark Lemon, Dimitri Berge, Anders Thomsen, Kasper Lykke.

Key man: Exciting German Kevin Wolbert has held his own in the Elite League in recent years and should be a star back at this level.

Bookies odds: 20/1

Plummer’s prediction: Rock-bottom last season but look a bit more solid this time around. Wolbert, Pijper and Harrison are all handy signings but they received a blow when Aussie Joey Ringwood was denied a visa. Team without a single Brit.


Stadium: Foxhall

Preferred race-night: Thursday

Team manager: Chris Louis

Line-up: Richie Worrall, Rohan Tungate, Morten Risager, Cameron Heeps, Gino Manzares, Adam Ellis, Ritchie Hawkins.

Key man: American ace Manzares will need to perform in his first British season.

Bookies odds: 7/1

Plummer’s prediction: A side skippered by Yaxley lad Ritchie Hawkins doesn’t necessarily stand out as title contenders on paper. They have lost key riders since last season’s second-placed finish and will do well to repeat that feat unless their young riders keep on improving.


Stadium: Brough Park

Preferred race-night: Sunday

Team manager: George English

Line-up: Ludvig Lindgren, Christian Henry, Stuart Robson, Anton Rosen, Lewis Kerr, Chris Schramm, Lewis Rose.

Bookies odds: 12/1

Key man: Much will depend on the displays of promising Swedish prospect Anton Rosen who impressed following his late-season arrival in 2013.

Plummer’s prediction: The reigning League Cup holders have retained five members of the team that enjoyed success last season. If Rosen can turn into the out-and-out number one they require, more silverware could follow.


Stadium: St Boniface Arena

Preferred race-night: Friday

Team manager: Lee Trigger

Line-up: Ben Barker, Rasmus Jensen, Sam Simota, Kyle Newman, Roland Benko, Kalle Katajisto, Ben Reade.

Bookies odds: 25/1

Key man: Hard-charging Ben Barker is a force to be reckoned with and has been persuaded to return to his West Country roots.

Plummer’s prediction: Despite the arrival of the third-best rider in the league last season (Barker) and a member of Somerset’s title-winning team (Newman), the Devils are still likely to be battling to avoid the wooden spoon as usual.


Stadium: South Tees Motorsport Park

Preferred race-night: Thursday

Team manager: Jitendra Duffil

Line-up: Richard Lawson, Aaron Summers, Richard Hall, Hugh Skidmore, Carl Wilkinson, Jan Graversen, Luke Crang.

Key man: Jan Graversen could pile up the points at reserve.

Bookies odds: 14/1

Plummer’s prediction: The Bears pulled off a fine swoop when snapping up former Panthers man Richard Lawson, but were dealt a major blow when Kozza Smith snubbed a move due to visa issues. They’ve hired Panthers title hero of 2006, Richard Hall, as his replacement but they don’t stand out as play-off challengers - far from it.


Stadium: Hoddesdon Raceway

Preferred race-night: Saturday

Team manager: John Sampford

Line-up: Eddie Kennett, Mat Tresarrieu, Jason Bunyan, Steve Boxall, Jason Garrity, Luke Bowen, Simon Lambert.

Key man: Frenchman Tresarrieu, a former Panthers rider, can ride tracks of all shapes and sizes.

Bookies odds: 18/1

Plummer’s prediction: The bookies’ don’t get a lot wrong, but the Rockets could well be over-priced. A top number one in Kennett, backed up by plenty of experience and the bright young talent of Garrity, and a big home-track advantage could make them surprise top-six contenders. Win at Panthers on Tuesday won’t hurt either.


Stadium: Eddie Wright Raceway

Preferred race-night: Friday

Team manager: Dave Peet

Line-up: Anders Mellgren, Josh Auty, David Howe, Thomas Jorgensen, Ryan Douglas, Ashley Birks, Matt Williamson.

Key man: Ashley Birks is a highly-rated British ace who has displayed his talents at Elite League level, but needs to resume his progress after breaking his back last term.

Bookies odds: 6/1

Plummer’s prediction: A team with a lot of unanswered questions with important riders coming back from injury and others not certain to continue improvements shown in 2013. Mid-table mediocrity is probably the likeliest outcome.


Stadium: Owlerton

Preferred race-night: Thursday

Team manager: Joe Screen

Line-up: Simon Stead, Adam Roynon, Leigh Lanham, Taylor Poole, Simon Nielsen, Andre Compton, Josh Bates.

Key man: Taylor Poole - the son of Panthers legend Mick - could be a big hit after a year out of British racing.

Bookies odds: 9/1

Plummer’s prediction: It’s been a winter of change with a club takeover and the arrival of a new team boss. On track much will depend on how Stead comes back from injury and whether or not veteran Compton, who starts at reserve, proves a success in his return to Owlerton. Bottom-half of the table the likeliest destination.


Stadium: Oaktree Arena

Preferred race-night: Friday

Team manager: Garry May

Line-up: Ty Proctor, Olly Allen, Pontus Aspgren, Brady Kurtz, Todd Kurtz, Charles Wright, Paul Starke.

Key man: Ty Proctor can be very good on his day - and he will need to have plenty of good days replacing title-winning number one Jason Doyle.

Bookies odds: 9/2

Plummer’s prediction: The loss of Doyle due to visa complications will hit the reigning champions hard. That was one of countless problems during a difficult winter which also saw new recruit Brady Kurtz arrive on a higher-than-expected average. They will do well to retain their crown.


Stadium: Derwent Park

Preferred race-night: Saturday

Team manager: Tony Jackson

Line-up: Josh Grajczonek, Rene Bach, Ricky Wells, Kyle Howarth, Mason Campton, Ashley Morris, Chris Mills.

Key man: Josh Grajczonek is an all-action Aussie who starred for Somerset in their title march last year. Could be winning it again at the other end of the country.

Bookies odds: 9/2

Plummer’s prediction: The Comets are probably the team to beat after some decent winter business. A powerful top order should compensate for any possible weaknesses at the bottom end and make them a force to be reckoned with both at home and away.