Mat shines in polished Panthers fightback
(Elite League B – Panthers 3pts, Ipswich 0pts) THE Showground was left completely and utterly spellbound last night.
It looked like the rock-bottom Witches would deliver a nasty Bank Holiday shock by swooping for a surprise victory, but the recently revamped Panthers weaved their magic during a swashbuckling finale to snatch the spoils.
It was way too close for comfort (just as it had been when a weakened Witches side went down here by nine points at the end of April) but it was one hell of a night of speedway that literally had the lot.
Breathtaking and nail-biting in equal measure, there was a tworider race, a three-rider race, an ill-timed withdrawal, another new track record from the blisteringly brilliant Kenneth Bjerre and most importantly of all, a priceless Panthers triumph to carry them back into the play-off places.
And plenty of credit for that has to go to new recruit Mat Tresarrieu who went from zero to hero as the home side hit top gear in the final few races.
The Gallic reserve was well off the pace in his opening two races but a change of machinery provided some much needed va va voom as he opened his account with a classy overtaking manoeuvre in heat 11 and then played his part in crucial maximums in heats 13 and 14.
Those returns helped pull Panthers out of a pickle and team manager Trevor Swales was quick to heap the praise on Tresarrieu.
“Fair play to the lad,” said Swales. “The meeting didn’t start well for Mat but he changed his bike and looked like a man possessed. He chipped in with big points at a big time and was a big factor in our victory.”
And the same applies to stand-in skipper and top dog Bjerre who announced his arrival in the number one race jacket by lowering his own track record in the opening heat, clocking a scorchingly-fast 58.8-second time.
Bjerre went on to score 16+1 with his only defeat coming at the hands of fellow Huntingdon resident and good pal Danny King in heat 10 at a time when Panthers found themselves behind and staring at the very real possibility of a home reverse.
As usual Bjerre received plenty of spectacular support from star reserve Krzysztof Buczkowski, who put in another demanding sevenride shift to finish up with an identical paid 17 tally to his team-mate.
Buczkowski even managed two tapes-to-flag victories during his hectic display but there was plenty of his trademark exhilarating antics as well to satisfy an Alwalton public who are now permanently perched on the edges of their seats.
Buczkowski could probably do with giving his good friend and new arrival Kamil Brzozowski a tow.
The latest Polish capture failed to score for the second successive meeting, but Buczkowski might just have a partner at reserve capable of sharing the scoring burden now.
Tresarrieu showed his
first NOT SO GOOD: glimpse of class when collaring Olly Allen to ensure heat 11 honours were shared.
Fellow new-boy Rory Schlein took the flag in the next as Panthers turned a narrow deficit into a slender advantage, although it was rough justice for Ipswich as Danny King shed a chain when holding third place on the final lap.
Panthers appeared to have been dealt a major blow when Troy Batchelor was withdrawn ahead of heat 13 – a race in which he was set to be deployed as rider-replacement, but Tresarrieu stepped up to the plate in style.
He zoomed from last to second on the opening lap to follow home Bjerre for a 5-1 with more of the same soon on the way.
This time Tresarrieu watched the back of Buczkowski as local lad Ritchie Hawkins was left trailing while on a solo mission for the visitors.
Ipswich were only able to field one rider after Claus Vissing had charged into the tapes for the second time on the night and then missed the two-minute deadline to return to the start for the re-run. That completed a miserable and pointless night for the lanky Panthers asset and he wasn’t the only one feeling glum in his side of the pits.
A consolation point was probably the least Ipswich deserved and a last-heat finale would have earned one, but Bjerre had other ideas when streaking clear before Schlein nipped past Scott Nicholls for minor honours.
It was a fine finish to a fine meeting – and despite the difference between the clubs in the Elite League standings, this has to go down as a fine result for Panthers.