Belle Vue end Panthers' play-off hopes

Elite League BBelle Vue 45 Peterborough 43 BELLE Vue finally ended Panthers hopes of a play off place with a narrow and hard fought win at Kirkmanshulme Lane.

Elite League B

Belle Vue 45 Peterborough 43

BELLE Vue finally ended Panthers hopes of a play off place with a narrow and hard fought win at Kirkmanshulme Lane.

The meeting was littered with mistakes and falls as riders attempted to come to grips with a circuit that had been left in a questionable state (due to stock cars) that caused major problems for both teams towards the end of the meeting.

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Jason Crump had got the Aces off to a good start with an opening 5-1 with both Panthers slow away from the start.

Henning Bager got the drop to lead heat two with Ales Dryml taking advantage of a mistake by Josh Grajczonek late on to grab third place and reduce Panthers arrears.

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Bager did it again in the third with another good start and Panthers levelled it up as Kenneth Bjerre got past Lubos Tomicek on the last lap.

Belle Vue re-established their four point lead with another maximum in heat four courtesy of a fast starting Krzysztof Kasprzak and Kevin Doolan with Dryml third after Mads Korneliussen had fallen.

Heat five saw a great scrap for first place between Niels Kristian Iversen and Patrick Hougaard with Iversen managing to get clear of his opponent after the first two laps, Hougaard kept up the pressure however with Iversen hanging on to win.

An unusual heat six followed as Korneliussen fell while chasing on bend four and, while he was picking himself up and exiting onto the centre green, Wright was managing the same feat on the first bend. The referee stopped the race and awarded the race to Crump, who was leading at the time with Bager placed second and no third as Korneliussen wasn't deemed to be under power at the time of the stoppage.

Kasprzak took the seventh after several early exchanges with Bager with Kasprzak less than impressed with some of Bager's moves during the race.

Belle Vue then opened up a nine point lead with an easy maximum in heat eight courtesy of Wright and Doolan with Bager unable to get by Vissing until both Aces were well gone.

Heat nine again highlighted the problems on the top bend with Hougaard dropping a chain whilst leading and causing carnage as the rest piled into him, thankfully everyone was up and okay and after some time to repair machines they attempted a rerun.

Tomicek however, in an attempt to get off to a good start, caught his helmet on the tapes and found himself off after 15m, with Korneliussen taking the win and Dryml just hanging onto second place as the Panthers again reduced the deficit.

Bjerre dented Crump's maximum with a good tapes to flag win in the 10th and Kasprzak did the business in the 11th denying Iversen in the process as both heats finished all square.

Panthers took advantage after the interval as Hougaard again dropped a chain, whilst leading heat 12 with Bager and Vissing coming through to close the gap to three points.

Heat 13 looked like a likely Ace advantage with both Crump and Kasprzak out for Belle Vue but despite Crump getting away Iversen and Korneliussen pegged Kasprzak at the rear which ruined his maximum and kept the match on a knife edge.

Heat 14 was clearly important to both sides and it was no surprise when the Bager and Doolan cards were played accordingly.

Bjerre led early on but hit the dreaded hole on turns three and four which had caused problems to others which resulted in him losing it big style and flying into the safety fence.

Despite that Bager traps in the rerun and it looks like honours even until Doolan this time picks up on the same bend and takes his partner Tomicek out completely with both riders coming down hard. Again the referee awards the race with Bager taking the win from Tomicek.

It seemed obvious to many who would line up for the respective teams in this vital and deciding last heat decider but one or two eyebrows were raised when Belle Vue went for Kaspzrak and Doolan with Crump apparently not to keen to take another ride on a difficult track.

Panthers won the toss for gate positions and went with Bjerre and Iversen, any heat advantage would have meant Panthers would still have been in with a chance of making the play-off's but Kasprzak produced another great start and he denied Iversen despite pressure for the whole race.

This defeat therefore ends Panthers hopes for this year as they now cannot catch either Coventry or Lakeside with just the away match at Poole left.

Man-of-the-match was undoubtedly Henning Bager who produced his highest score of the season with 17 points from seven starts which included four heat wins, unfortunately the rest of the team could only manage three further heat wins between them but the state of the track didn't help matters with both teams suffering misfortune equally.

Belle Vue: Crump 10+1, Wright 7+1, Hougaard 4, Tornicek 3, Kasprzak 12, Grajczonek 0, Doolan 9+3.

Peterborough: Iversen 10, Vissing 2+1, Hansen R/R, Bjerre 6+2, Korneliussen 4+1, Bager 17, Dryml 4+1.

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