PETERBOROUGH withstood a late Lakeside fightback for a 46-44 win in their Championship Shield opener at the East of England Arena on Sunday.
A meeting of changing fortunes and multiple race winners saw the Panthers race into a twelve-point lead with ten heats completed – before the Hammers hit back to secure a point from the group encounter.
Emil Grondal made a positive return to Panthers colours with an 11+1 haul, backed up by Ulrich Ostergaard on nine, whilst Nick Morris won his last three rides on his way to 11 for the visitors, and a clean sweep of the final five heats was completed by reserve Zach Watjknecht won Heats 12 and 14 as the gap was slashed from twelve points to two.
Peterborough boss Carl Johnson said: “It’s good to get the first meeting out of the way with a win – yes, it was narrow in the end, but a win’s a win and we can move on from it.
“We always expected a tough meeting as it was the first time on-track competitively for the majority of our riders, whereas several of the Lakeside boys have already had a few meetings.
“They’re a good side, and so it was important to hit them early and get into a position where hopefully we couldn’t be caught.”
Hammers manager Will Pottinger said: “It's a good result considering we were 12 points down at one point and we could have even come away with a win but for a couple of moments of ill fortune.
“Making a comeback from that many points down shows great resolve by all the riders. It's a point that could prove to be crucial.
“Nick did a great job considering he wasn't feeling very well today. He's a great rider to have leading the team.”
SIMON Stead's Farewell meeting was won by Grand Prix Star Martin Vaculik.
The Slovakian racer made a stunning start in the Grand Final to beat Brady Kurtz, Niels-Kristian Iversen and Peter Kildemand.
It was a keenly contested meeting in front of a huge crowd at Owlerton as Sheffield hero Stead brought the curtain down on his racing career.
One of the main attractions was World Champion Jason Doyle - but the Australian withdrew as a precaution after two rides following a tangle with Polish racer Krystian Pieszczek in Heat 5.
Stead said: “The weather was great, conditions were terrific and the riders put on a really good show for the supporters.
“It was a shame Doyley had to pull out but he's got a long season ahead of him and fingers crossed he'll be okay after a bit of rest.
“I can't thank everyone enough for making this such a huge success and hats off to all of the riders, especially Martin who got better as the meeting went on and it was a great first meeting in Britain in 2018.”
NEW Leicester team boss Simon Stead insists there’s an exciting year in front of the club ahead of tonight’s (Monday) challenge match opener against Somerset.
The Lions are being widely tipped for a much more positive campaign and their first meeting includes debuts for Martin Vaculik, Hans Andersen and Krystian Pieszczek.
The hosts operate rider-replacement for Josh Bates having been granted a 28-day facility to cover for the youngster who is out with a back injury, whilst the Rebels are sweating on the fitness of Jason Doyle after his incident in Stead’s Farewell meeting on Sunday.
Stead said: “It’s going to be good to get a challenge meeting under our belts on Monday – and there’s no better test than going up against a team that include the current World Champ.
“I really hope the supporters turn out in big numbers on Monday, as well as for the rest of the season, because the promotion deserve some form of reward for the ambition they’ve shown in assembling such an impressive looking side.”
Somerset boss Garry May said: “On paper I think we have a very good side this year. We have a true out-and-out number one in Jason but alongside that we have a collection of riders all more than capable of putting points on their averages and being match-winners in their own right."
“It might be labelled a challenge match against Leicester but speedway is largely about confidence and there is no better way to boost confidence levels than winning matches.”
MONDAY MARCH 26:
CHALLENGE: Leicester v Somerset 7.30
WEDNESDAY MARCH 28:
CHALLENGE: Birmingham v Coventry 7.30
THURSDAY MARCH 29:
PREMIERSHIP: Swindon v Leicester 7.30
FRIDAY MARCH 30:
PREMIERSHIP KO CUP Q/F: (1st leg) Poole v Somerset 11am, (2nd leg) Somerset v Poole 7.30
CHAMPIONSHIP SHIELD: Ipswich v Lakeside 2.15, Lakeside v Ipswich 8pm
TRAVEL PLUS NATIONAL LEAGUE: Belle Vue v Coventry 1pm
SCOTTISH CUP 2nd leg: Edinburgh v Glasgow 7.30
EASTER CHASE 1st leg: Kent v Eastbourne 1pm
Results Sunday March 25, 2018
Peterborough 46 (Emil Grondal 11+1)
Lakeside 44 (Nick Morris 11)
Championship Shield points: Peterborough 3 Lakeside 1
SIMON STEAD FAREWELL, Sheffield
1 Martin Vaculik (Leicester)
2 Brady Kurtz (Poole)
3 Niels-Kristian Iversen (King’s Lynn)