South Coast Shambles
Saturday June 24, 2020
Eastbourne 55 Panthers 35 Friday 24th June Sky Sports Elite League B

A cobbled together ‘Peterborough Panthers’ side struggled at Arlington on Friday night as they slumped to a very forgettable 20-point defeat on the South Coast and have left themselves a difficult but not impossible task to gain the aggregate bonus point. The two sides meet again in the return at the East of England Showground in September.

Three Panthers riders missing (including No.1 and captain Hans Andersen), a four hour drive through heavy traffic on a warm day and a nightmarish prospect of witnessing their team tackling one of Panthers notoriously difficult away matches with a depleted side. That is what any Panthers fans who bothered to travel had to endure and although a few did make the journey most must have been left thinking ‘maybe I won’t bother’ and ‘why do we have to race this on a Friday before a Grand Prix’? As it was the Arlington attendance was sparse and although the Eagles claimed a 20-point victory and couldn’t be blamed for beating what opposition was put in front of them, it felt hollow and the meeting was devoid of much entertainment. What should have been a showpiece occasion for Sussex speedway fans, as was the meeting on April fools day, was nothing of the sort, did nothing for British Speedway in the process and could have surely been avoided with better fixture planning by both sides and the BSPA.

Those riders who did fill the gaps namely Billy Hamill, who was Panthers ‘villain’ the previous Monday at Wolverhampton and Oxford Cheetahs No.1 Todd Wiltshire battled gamely for Panthers but a heavy defeat was always going to be outcome and it soon obvious it was going to be more a case of how many. In fact Billy Hamill’s contribution was all the more remarkable as he was a victim of the heavy traffic arriving minutes before the scheduled start time and Team Manager Trevor Swales also arrived with minutes to spare. Panthers suffered two 4-2’s and a 5-1 over the first four heats to trail by 16-8, with the only bright spot being a dashing heat two ride by new boy Karol Zabik as he once again showed no fear for a small circuit. Arlington must indeed have seemed so alien to him after learning his trade on the big Polish tracks. He crashed rather heavily after locking up whilst in second place in heat four however and this seemed to hamper his confidence for the rest of the meeting.

After a further 4-2 to the Eagles, Ryan Sullivan steadied the ship with race win in heat 7 after Todd Wiltshire was seemingly harshly excluded for a first bend tumble by referee Dan Holt in heat 7. Trevor Swales gave Zabik a tactical ride in heat 8 but it was almost over by the first bend as Karol was alarmingly slow from the tapes and with Ostergaard leading up the back straight any chance of double points was gone. Things got worse as the Dane bucked and reared his way through the race before being overhauled by Edward Kennett on the run in to the finish.

Ryan Sullivan was given a tactical ride in the next race to stem the tide but with the inform Barker and shields making the gate there was to be no way through for the Australian and Panthers tactical options had yielded just one point out of a possible twelve. At 35-19, it was looking grim although a 4-2 in the 10th from Sullivan and Wiltshire gave the Panthers fans something to cheer at last albeit small. Panthers battled gamely over the final few races once the track had been given a complete re-grading with 3 drawn heats but a Norris/Loram maximum in heat 13 followed by a 4-2 over Wiltshire and the out of sorts Richard Hall in heat 14 condemned Panthers to a 20 point defeat.

For Panthers Hamill and Wiltshire gave their all, Ryan Sullivan was inconsistent and Karol Zabik performed as well as could be expected. Once again the worrying performances came from Ulrich Ostergaard and Richard Hall and they will simply have to lift their game to ensure victory at Oxford next Wednesday comes Panthers way. Most of the clubs in the leading pack have won at Sandy Lane and victory will be vital to keep pace at the top. They will however, have at least their own team in place to represent the club, minus of course the injury stricken Jesper B Jensen.

1. David Norris 3 3 0 2* = 8+1
2. Edward Kennett 1 1 3 2 = 7
3. Dean Barker 2* 1* 2* 1* = 6+4
4. Adam Shields 3 2 3 3 2 = 13
5. Mark Loram (G) 3 2 3 3 1* =12+1
6. Cameron Woodward 2 1* 0 = 3+1
7. Lewis Bridger 1* 1 1 2 1 = 6+1

1. Bill Hamill (G) 2 2 3 2 1= 10
2. Ulrich Ostergaard 0 0 2 1* e/f = 3+1
3. Ryan Sullivan 0 3 1 1 3 0 = 8
4. Todd Wiltshire (G) 1 2 fx 3 2 3 = 11
5. Jesper B Jensen R/R (BH2, TW 2, RS 1, UO ef = 5)
6. Richard Hall 0 0 0 0 = 0
7. Karol Zabik 3 fx 0 0 = 3

Panthers won the Toss and took gates 1 and 3

HEAT 1 NORRIS Hamill KENNETT Ostergaard 4 - 2 (56.5)
HEAT 2 Zabik WOODWARD BRIDGER Hall 3 - 3 7 - 5 (57.2)
HEAT 3 SHIELDS BARKER Wiltshire Sullivan 5 - 1 12 - 6 (57.0)
HEAT 4 Re-Run LORAM Hamill (r/r) BRIDGER 4 - 2 16 - 8 (57.2)
HEAT 5 Hamill SHIELDS BARKER Ostergaard 3 - 3 19 - 11 (57.7)
HEAT 6 NORRIS Wiltshire (r/r) KENNETT Hall 4 - 2 23 - 13 (57.9)
HEAT 7 Re-run Sullivan LORAM WOODWARD 3 - 3 26 - 16 (57.7)
HEAT 8 KENNETT Ostergaard BRIDGER Zabik t/r 4 - 2 30 -18 (58.9)
HEAT 9 SHIELDS BARKER Sullivan (r/r & t/r) Hall 5 - 1 35-19 (58.1)
HEAT 10 Re-run Wiltshire KENNETT Sullivan NORRIS 2- 4 37-23(57.6)
HEAT 11 LORAM Hamill Ostergaard WOODWARD 3-3 40-26(57.9)
HEAT 12 Sullivan BRIDGER BARKER Zabik 3-3 43-29 (58.0)
HEAT 13 LORAM NORRIS Hamill Ostergaard (r/r) 5-1 48-30 (57.9)
HEAT 14 SHIELDS Wiltshire BRIDGER Hall 4-2 52-32 (58.4)
HEAT 15 Wiltshire SHIELDS LORAM Sullivan 3-3 55-35 57.8

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