Saturday December 02, 2017
Panthers management duo of owner Ged Rathbone and team manager Carl Johnson revealed team building plans are well underway for the 2018 season at the club's traditional post BSPA AGM fans forum last Monday evening in front of a bumper turnout of around 200 fans.

The Peterborough T.Balfe Construction Panthers will look to defend their Fours and KO Cup trophies next year that they fought so hard to win during the 2017 campaign but as is the nature of modern day speedway, the city club will go into the new campaign with a refreshed and different looking team.

The first name introduced to an expectant audience on the night was returning Dane Michael Palm Toft who enjoyed an exciting 2015 season at the East of England Arena in Rathbone's first full season as club owner before being released mid-season in 2016 after an indifferent start blighted by mechanical issues. Fans will recall many of his thrilling last lap dashes from the back on the Alwalton circuit and on a bargain 6.77 average, hopes will be high that he can improve significantly on the figure he achieved at Scunthorpe last summer.

Panthers official Lisa Fleming then linked up live via mobile phone with returning skipper Ulrich Østergaard as he confirmed his inclusion and informed the crowd of his hopes for another good season as well as querying who else had been signed up and announced! Ulrich finished the season on 7.12 and there is no doubt that he can also improve on that figure with a good injury free 2018 term.

The management team followed that as they announced another new signing to the audience (although he wasn't present on the night) as Finnish racer Nike Lunna who spent the last two seasons with the Glasgow Tigers after originally coming to this country in 2015 to ride at Scunthorpe. Nike is well known to the Panthers bosses as he was twice a guest for the club at Redcar last season scoring 9+2 in the 46-44 KO Cup win and 8+1 in the 45-45 drawn second championship fixture at the Media Prima Arena. He arrives on a 5.90 average which was achieved in a strong Glasgow team so it is again hoped that he can improve significantly on that number next season.

A Panthers side wouldn't be a Panthers side without Østergaard and that can also be said of the fourth signing revealed on the night as Lincolnshire racer Simon Lambert and his announcement was greeted with a rousing reception from an appreciative audience. Lambert has had three injury ravaged seasons at the East of England Arena and signed off 2017 with a 4.56 average that will see him start the season at reserve. he revealed that he had received recent good medical news regarding old leg and wrist injuries and is now free from metalwork in last year's battle scars. There are certainly not many riders around on that sort of average who can score double figures as regularly as "Rambo Lambo" can when he is fit and able.

So that's a solid start with four riders on contracts for the new campaign with the team totalling 24.35 leaving 18.15 for the remaining three riders, one of which is likely to be the new number one. With Glasgow, Scunthorpe and Ipswich all putting strong sides together, Ged Rathbone confirmed at the forum that Panthers are going for a strength in depth approach.

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