Brilliant Panthers down the Pirates

PETERBOROUGH’S rapid charge up the Elite League table gained further momentum with a stunning 51-39 win at Poole on Wednesday.

PETERBOROUGH’S rapid charge up the Elite League table gained further momentum with a stunning 51-39 win at Poole on Wednesday.

With belief flowing through every area of the team, the Readypower Panthers have put themselves in with a realistic chance of gate-crashing the play-offs by making it all the way into the top four – if they can keep their current run going.

All of the talk at Wimborne Road was of Poole’s own play-off chances, with Greg Hancock recently signed to bolster a side already including in-form heat-leaders such as Darcy Ward and Maciej Janowski.

But there is no more in-form rider in the Elite League at present than Panthers skipper Kenneth Bjerre, who sailed to his second successive maximum in what was also a major personal boost given that he will return to Wimborne Road to fight for a Grand Prix place in the GP Challenge next Saturday.

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Bjerre’s outstanding display was backed up by solid scoring throughout the Panthers ranks as, incredibly, neither Ward nor Janowski won a race between them and Hancock ran two last places.

Panthers gained the perfect start with 5-1s in each of the first two heats and held an eight-point lead throughout most of the early stages, Bjerre steaming past Hancock on the second lap of Heat 5 to silence the home crowd.

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A mid-meeting Pirates fightback put the Panthers under pressure as a 5-1 in Heat 8 and a 4-2 in Heat 10 left the scores at 29-31, Dakota North having held a vital third place ahead of Hancock in Heat 9.

Bjerre and Ryan Fisher restored control in Heat 11 with a key maximum over Janowski, and although the home side scraped a 4-2 in the next when Micky Dyer trapped Norbert Kosciuch for third place Bjerre held his nerve superbly to win the big Heat 13.

And the conclusion to the meeting was simply special as Patrick Hougaard and Krzysztof Buczkowski charged clear of Dyer and Rohan Tungate in Heat 14, and all four league points were sealed in emphatic fashion by Bjerre and Joonas Kylmakorpi ahead of Ward and Hancock in the last race.

Panthers boss Trevor Swales said: “The most pleasing thing about the performance was that every single rider chipped in with good rides, and the team spirit is absolutely amazing now.

“I know we shouldn’t get too carried away, but with team spirit like that you can’t not win! It’s so buoyant at all times and they are all helping each other and geeing one another along. We did it without Ryan (Sullivan) tonight but it just shows what he’s pushed into the team, and the riders are so motivated

“We were gating well, which obviously helped, but we weren’t just out-gating them – we were hustling them into and around the first turn, and they weren’t used to that. They are used to people giving up in the first turn, and we didn’t do that.

“It could even have been a bigger win, but it’s got to go down as one of our best away performances for some time.

“I think some of the other teams will be getting very nervous about the run we’re on now, and they’ll probably start to respect us a bit more as well. I certainly wouldn’t rule out our chances.”

Panthers now have a vitally important run of fixtures in the second half of August as they need to keep picking up three points from home matches and must also take further wins on the road.

Home clashes with Lakeside (Monday) and Coventry (Friday) next week offer the chance for six points, whilst trips to Birmingham (next Wednesday), Coventry (Aug 26) and Eastbourne (Aug 31) are all now vital meetings in a season which has suddenly come to life.

POOLE 39: Micky Dyer 8+1, Greg Hancock 8, Tomas H Jonasson 7+1, Darcy Ward 6+1, Maciej Janowski 4+1, Rohan Tungate 4, Kyle Howarth 2.

PETERBOROUGH 51: Kenneth Bjerre 14+1, Joonas Kylmakorpi 9+1, Patrick Hougaard 7+2, Ryan Fisher 6+1, Dakota North 6+1, Krzysztof Buczkowski 5+1, Norbert Kosciuch 4.

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