Panthers beaten but they push Poole hard
POOLE ......................... 50 PANTHERS .................. 39 (Elite League – Poole 3pts, Panthers 0pts)
LINUS Sundstrom produced the finest ride of his career as patched-up Panthers returned from title favourites Poole with their heads held high last night.
A city side missing the ill Michael Jepsen Jensen and injury victim Olly Allen more than matched the reigning champions for two thirds of a televised clash at Wimborne Road.
They were condemned to defeat by a series of six successive heat reverses from the eighth race onwards, but it was still no disgrace against freakishly good opposition who were setting a club record of 10 successive victories in a season.
And Sundstrom ensured it was Panthers who signed off in style by claiming the scalp of Pirates top dogs Chris Holder and Darcy Ward in the final race.
The Australian aces have been christened the ‘Turbo Twins’ due to their free-scoring fireworks but last night they became the ‘Swede’s Shadows’ as Sundstrom showed them the fastest way around their own backyard.
Sundstrom said: “I knew the Poole boys were right up my exhaust all the time, but I just tried to stay calm and forget about that.
“Chris and Darcy are so good around their track and I’m really pleased to have beaten them. It was a good team effort from us considering we missed a couple of guys badly.”
Moments earlier Sundstrom had played a part in a penultimate race 5-1 behind returning Jesper B. Monberg who settled back into Panthers action with a top-scoring haul of 12+1 points from reserve.
That race was awarded after another Swede, the home side’s Ludvig Lindgren, had gone down when being collared for second spot by Sundstrom on the last lap.
It was an inspiring finish from a team who had also begun the meeting in battling fashion. They made a fine start with the Bjerre brothers Kenneth and Lasse bagging a 4-2 in the opener, but both those riders went on to disappoint.
Number one Kenneth failed to win another race while Lasse finished up with just three points from his five rides. Another man to have an off-night was reserve Richard Lawson whose sole scoring contribution came courtesy of a second place in heat six.
Panthers remained well in touch, trailing by just two points (22-20) after seven races, but a Monberg tumble in the first attempt to stage heat eight triggered their nightmare run of results.
That race was eventually awarded as a 3-2 to the hosts with Todd Kurtz beating Lasse Bjerre when the second staging was also halted early when Poole man Ricky Kling was thrown from his machine.
Four successive 4-2s then followed although admittedly Panthers did have their fair share of bad luck with Sundstrom suffering a bike failure and Lawson dropping to the back after hitting a rogue hole in the track either side of some poor riding from the Bjerres in heat 11.
There was more misery for Kenneth Bjerre in heat 13 as he was left chasing the shadows of Miedzinski and Holder as Poole sealed their victory with plenty to spare.
It was only the second time in eight Elite League outings this year that Panthers have failed to collect a point, but their display still pleased joint team boss Jan Staechmann.
He said: “It is not easy to go to Poole with a full-strength team, so to do it with a depleted side and hang in there so well for half the meeting is very pleasing.
“We had a few blips along the way and ran out of steam before getting ourselves going again in a great finish.
“We showed a few glimpses of what we’re about and hopefully we entertained the crowd and the television audience along the way.”
DOUBLE FIGURES: Linus Sundstrom impressed, particularly in the final race of the night.