Monday July 02, 2018
PROMOTER Ged Rathbone says preparation was key in Peterborough’s Championship Fours triumph at Redcar on Sunday.

The T.Balfe Construction Panthers retained the trophy on a blisteringly hot day of racing at the Media Prima Arena, coming out on top against all ten of their rivals.

And Rathbone says the work put in off-track along with the superb on-track performance of the riders exemplified the manner in which the club goes about its business.

He said: “We felt we were by far the best set-up team there. We realised there weren’t going to be any marquees to cover the riders, so they’d be out in blistering heat from 11am until around 6pm, so we made sure we went with our Panthers gazebo.

“We had everything set up for the riders with ice drinks, fruit, bananas, grapes, wipes and spray bottles for them so they could keep themselves fresh and cool, so we went that little bit extra in terms of effort and professionalism to get the riders as comfortable as we could.

“As a club we want to be as professional as we can, and this is what we’ve been working towards for the last three seasons. We want to set the standards and get everyone to follow.

“From a supporters’ point of view, looking at it from afar, all you could see was a big Panthers head on a black gazebo, which I think gives the riders that little bit of an extra edge inside. It might only be one per cent, but that one per cent can sometimes make all the difference.”

Rathbone has again hailed the spirit in the Panthers camp, a factor which has been crucially evident in their recent run of success in the league.

Non-riding team members Simon Lambert and Tom Bacon were both quick to congratulate their colleagues via message groups after the meeting – and there was also a message from the injured Edward Kennett.

Rathbone said: “The team spirit that we’ve got is incredible. I think it actually cost Scott Nicholls to ride yesterday, but this wasn’t about the wages.

“Peterborough Speedway were there to win the trophy, and that was our total mindset from start to finish.

“We did a live feed with Simon, who’s captain of the club, halfway through, and we seem to have an edge at the moment which can win you trophies when it comes down to it.

“The riders all feel obliged to give that extra bit of effort on track because they’ve got another six behind them doing the same.

“It was nice for Ellis (Perks) too to get a trophy in his last meeting for us, and we also had Eddie message us straight after. He was watching all the way through, and even though he hasn’t ridden for us we class him as part of our team, and he classes us as his team. That’s what we’re trying to build here.

“It’s so good for the fans, and also for David Balfe of T.Balfe Construction who have played such a big part with the sponsorship and is always there if I need to chat to him.

“He never questions everything but he’s there with 100 per cent support, and things would be much more difficult without him.”

Panthers’ victory also finally puts to bed the notion of home track advantage being the decisive factor in the major event – which always appeared a flawed theory given their relative lack of success in the Fours at the East of England Arena from 2014-16.

They failed to reach the Final in 2014 and 2015 and finished second the following year having been seeded straight into the last four in the two-day event.

Rathbone said: “We won last year because we deserved to win. We were by far the best team in the Final.

“There’s no home track advantage at Peterborough, and anyone who says that obviously doesn’t watch riders racing there week-in, week-out.

“It was very pleasing yesterday for me to win it at my hometown club, and obviously it also shows the Redcar supporters what I’m all about, and my mindset when I build a team!

“But we won it because we were the best team, we were the most consistent all the way through, and it’s a major achievement to win it two years on the trot.

“I know Peterborough have done it before back in the National League days (1977/78 and 1988/89) and it’s massive for us – and the following we had at Redcar certainly matched any other club’s attendance or exceeded it. It was fantastic.

“I’ve also got to add that I’ve seen some comments saying we turned down the chance to stage the meeting this year, and that simply isn’t the case. The truth is we weren’t asked to stage it.

“I was suspended (as a promoter) at the end of last year so we weren’t getting any e-mails and I don’t know who it was offered to. We would have been happy to stage it, and we would be again in future.

“But I would like to congratulate Kevin Keay and all at Redcar for doing a really good job, especially in the conditions. It was always going to be tough with the dust on such a hot day but they did everything they could and I think there was some really good racing for everyone to enjoy.”

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