Panthers prove far too good for the Hammers
PANTHERS .................. 56 LAKESIDE.................... 39
(Elite League A – Panthers 3pts, Lakeside 0pts) SPEEDWAY meetings don’t come much more one-sided than this.
Panthers chose the perfect occasion to highlight their play-off pedigree as second-placed Lakeside were sent packing in resounding style.
The Hammers had trimmed up the city lads at their tiny Purfleet track last Friday, but the boot was well and truly on the other foot around the awesome Alwalton bowl.
These two venues could hardly be more different and neither could the performances produced by Panthers. Their worst night of the season was quickly followed by one of their very best.
This was powerful stuff from a team whose substantial scorechart was brilliantly book-ended by the usual high-scoring suspects - top dog Kenneth Bjerre and reserve trump card Krzysztof Buczkowski.
Despite both of those riders seeing their hopes of a maximum dashed by former Panthers number one Lee Richardson in heat 13, the little Dane and the livewire Pole took centre stage with 14 and 14+3-point hauls respectively.
“It must be getting expensive for our owner Rick Frost having to pay their wages,” joked team boss Trevor Swales. “But in all seriousness both boys have been absolutely brilliant for us.
“When you have your top man and a reserve performing as they are, you are onto a winner.”
That is even more the case when you have three other riders weighing with solid contributions just as Panthers did last night when providing the first 10 heat winners.
Australian ace Rory Schlein – the figurehead of the club’s recent revamp – continued his electric start to life in Peterborough colours with a third successive double-figures display, countryman Troy Batchelor suggested he is returning to something like his best and ‘Flying Frenchman’ Mat Tresarrieu did his bit with a steady night at reserve.
The only major blemish on a near-exemplary copybook was the display of Kamil Brzozowski who racked up an unwanted hat-trick of pointless performances since his arrival last week.
Brzozowski, who was again aboard borrowed equipment, was a serious rival to regular Showground slouch Daniel Davidsson for the dubious honour of being the slowest man on track.
Davidsson was a shocking Panthers signing back in 2005 and still navigates the place at a snail’s pace, although he did manage one pointspaying finish last night.
Panthers quickly built up a commanding cushion courtesy of a hattrick of early heat maximums.
Buczkowski played a starring role in that sequence, leading home reserve partner Tresarrieu in the second contest before following in the slipstream of Bjerre in heat four.
In between the Aussie duo of Schlein and Batchelor breezed to victory over the Davidsson brothers, but the run of home dominance ended when Batchelor was slow away from the tapes in heat five and then squeezed out in the opening bend.
That sparked a run of shared heats in which Panthers continued to provide the winners, but also had men coming home at the rear.
Lakeside cut their arrears to 10 points when Kauko Nieminen pocketed four points from a tactical ride mission in heat eight.
The Finn had looked the pick of the opposition in the opening half of the meeting, but he was no match for Buczkowski as the Hammers claimed a marginal 5-3 advantage.
Batchelor took a first victory of the night and Schlein suffered a first defeat as Panthers triumphed in a battle of four Australians to strike straight back with a 4-2.
Then Bjerre and Buczkowski streaked to another maximum in the next to effectively put the meeting to bed by the interval.
That statement still applied after Richardson had finally given the small band of Lakeside followers something to cheer by taking the flag when donning the black and white helmet in heat 11.
That did spark a flurry of late victories for the beaten visitors with Richardson again doing the honours in heat 13 and Jonas Davidsson (the somewhat speedier sibling of Daniel) claiming the scalp of Batchelor in the penultimate contest.
The Hammers would also have signed off with a Richardson victory but for some cruel mechanical gremlins within metres of the finish line, but this was Panthers’ night from start to finish.
COMPLETING A HAT-TRICK: Rory Schlein en route to victory in heat seven, his third successive win
RED LIGHT: Heat nine was twice stopped with Troy Batchelor in front but he went on to win the re-run.
BRILLIANT BJERRE: Kenneth Bjerre leads heat six, one of four wins on the night.
Pictures: PAUL FRANKS