Friday August 21, 2015
BEN Barker made a sensational Peterborough debut to spearhead a charge to victory over Newcastle last night (Friday).

The new Readypower Panthers recruit powered to a four-ride, 12-point maximum to announce his arrival at the East of England Showground in style in the 51-41 success.

He received fine support from his new team-mates with Michael Palm Toft and Emil Grondal also roaring into double-figures as Panthers strengthened their grip on a Premier League play-off spot by climbing back into third place in the table.

And it was a display which received rave reviews from team boss Carl Johnson, who took sole charge last night.

Johnson said: “We won what could have been a very tough meeting in very good style.

“We’ve got great team spirit and we’ve got riders who enjoy being here and want to ride for Peterborough Speedway.

“I’m really impressed with the way the boys performed and it was terrific to see Ben come in and start his Panthers career so well.

“The guy is pure quality and a racer who never gives less than 110 per-cent. You only had to see the reaction from the fans to realise he will be very popular.

“He has reeled off four wins against some top riders in his first meeting after being out with a broken back.

“He is a great lad to have on your side on the track and he is also a top man in the pits.”

Barker’s brilliant debut began when he powered round the outside of Diamonds reserve Tero Aarnio to win heat four.

Another triumph quickly followed in heat seven before his finest contribution of the night arrived in heat 11 when claiming the scalp of fellow unbeaten rider Steve Worrall in a thrilling duel.

The Diamonds number one rocketed away from the tapes and held the lead until Barker swooped with a blast round the outside on the back straight of lap three.

And he duly completed his deserved full house with a minimum of fuss in heat 13 when leading home guest Nicklas Porsing for a meeting-clinching 5-1 after Worrall had ploughed into the tapes and been ordered to race off a 15-metre handicap.

Panthers had briefly fallen behind after Worrall repelled a late charge from Grondal to inspire a 4-2 for Newcastle in the opener, but they quickly responded as stand-in skipper Simon Lambert returned from his month-long injury absence in successful fashion.

Lambert led home Rafal Konopka for the smoothest of 5-1s in heat two after Diamonds man Aarnio remained rooted to the spot as the tapes went up with partner Simon Nielsen racing off a 15-metre handicap.

Top-scoring Newcastle guest Matej Kus helped to bring the visitors level with the first of his three heat successes in the next race, but Barker’s opening triumph ensured Panthers hit the front again.

And they never looked back from there as they steadily built an advantage that increased to 10 points after a 5-1 from Palm Toft and Konopka in heat nine.

Grondal provided arguably the finest contribution of the night when thwarting Kus’ tactical ride in the next race.

The Dane delivered a sparkling solo mission to gate smartly and respond to every attack from his Czech rival as the heat was completed at the third attempt following a controversial Porsing tapes exclusion and a Konopka spill.

Panthers had no trouble in seeing out the contest from there with victory assured with a couple of races to spare before chosen duo Porsing and Grondal packed the minor places in the finale to ensure Newcastle departed empty-handed.

Panthers are back in action with two away meetings in as many days next week. They go to Ipswich on Thursday and Somerset on Friday.

Johnson added: “We need to continue picking up points to keep ourselves in with a chance of snatching second place.

“They are going to be two very tough meetings against two teams also battling to reach the play-offs, but our away record is good and we’re going to Ipswich and Somerset to win.”


READYPOWER PANTHERS: Ben Barker 12 (max), Michael Palm Toft 11, Emil Grondal 10+2, Nicklas Porsing (guest) 7+1 , Simon Lambert 6+2, Rafal Konopka 5+2, Rider replacement for Lewis Blackbird.

NEWCASTLE: Matej Kus (guest) 15, Tero Aarnio 9+1, Steve Worrall 8, Anton Rosen 4+1, Simon Nielsen 3, Ludvig Lindgren 2, Rider replacement for Christian Henry.

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