Ipswich Witches slump to a heavy 56-36 loss at Peterborough Panthers

Nico Covatti (yellow helmet) and Danny King (white) battle towards a 5-1 over Ulrich Ostergaard in h

Nico Covatti (yellow helmet) and Danny King (white) battle towards a 5-1 over Ulrich Ostergaard in heat fifteen of the Peterborough v Ipswich (Premier League) match at East of England Showground - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Ipswich Witches never found their feet as Peterborough Panthers blew them away before going on to secure a convincing 56-36 victory this evening.

The visitors didn’t provide a race winner until heat nine, on an evening where five Panthers riders were paid for double figures as they stormed to the top of the Premier League table.

Danny King led the Ipswich scoring with 12, but in truth the men from Foxhall faced an uphill battle as early as heat five, when the skipper could only come in second behind Kenneth Hansen while on a tactical ride.

At that stage they still trailed by eight points, but two Panthers 5-1s in the next three heats saw them slip 16 behind and they never looked like recovering.

Panthers number one Craig Cook set the tone as he flew out the start in heat one, as he and Emil Grondal secured a 5-1 in the opening race over King and Lewis Kerr.

In form reserve Simon Lambert got off to the perfect start with a victory from the tapes in heat two, but when Panthers guest Luke Chessell fell at the end of a hard first turn, Witches duo Paco Castagna and Ollie Greenwood were able to tuck in behind for a share of the spoils.

It got worse in heat three as Hansen, who had been paid for 34 points in his two previous Panthers guest appearances, took an easy win and, despite pressure from Morten Risager, Grondal was able to follow his partner home for a second 5-1.

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Heat four saw a nasty turn one incident as Greenwood appeared to pick up grip, under pressure from Chessell, and took out the front wheel of teammate Covatti which left both Witches slumped against the fence. Thankfully they both walked back to the pits, although Greenwood was excluded, with Covatti splitting the Panthers in the re-run.

That left the Witches 10 down, with Ritchie Hawkins acting quickly to bring King out for double points. It looked to have worked as both the skipper and Kerr made the gate, but Hansen pulled a superb move on the inside of turn one before taking Kerr wide, to limit the damage as the Witches followed in second and third.

There was a moment of panic at the start of heat six as both Covatti and Castagna both emerged wearing white, and after the mistake was rectified the Witches duo both missed the gate and were on the end of another home maximum.

Risager and Sarjeant stopped the rot as they tucked in behind Ostergaard for a 3-3 in heat seven, but when it looked as though Kerr and Greenwood had gated to a potential heat advantage in heat eight, Hansen sliced between the two Witches to take the win before Lambert picked them both off to back him up for another maximum.

Covatti was the Witches’ first heat winner as he took the flag in race nine, with Hansen failing to pass Castagna for third despite trying every line, as the visitors pulled two points back.

Cook fired himself from third to first to win heat 10, with the two Witches second and third in the final race before the interval, before King did the same for the Witches in the very next heat as he launched himself past Ostergaard in a race which ended in a 3-3.

Hansen stormed to his fourth win of the night in heat 12, with Risager passing Lambert to prevent another 5-1, before the race of the night followed in heat 13.

Cook was oblivious to it all as he cruised to the win, but behind him Ostergaard, Covatti and King threw their bikes at each other for four laps, before the Panthers’ Dane ultimately backed his teammate up for another 5-1.

Grondal and Lambert fired in another maximum in the penultimate race, before the Witches pairing of King and Covatti ended the evening with a 5-1 of their own.