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PANTHERS CROWNED SGB PREMIERSHIP CHAMPIONS

Retiring Bjarne Pedersen signed off his career in epic style, racing to 13 paid 14 points as Peterborough lifted the SGB Premiership title.

14 / 10 / 2021, 21:46

Retiring Danish racer Bjarne Pedersen signed off his career in epic style, racing to 13 paid 14 points for Peterborough as they ended their 15-year wait for a British league title.

The table-topping Panthers defeated a dogged Belle Vue side 51-39 at the East of England Showground to triumph 95-85 on aggregate in the most entertaining play-off final since Panthers’ epic last-heat triumph over Reading in 2006.

The two sides delivered two nights of astonishing racing in Manchester on Monday and Peterborough on Thursday.

I am so pleased to be part of this team. I nearly thought about taking another season with these boys. It has been fantastic.

Bjarne Pedersen

But a Panthers side, nicknamed Dad’s Army, got the verdict as 43-year-old skipper Scott Nicholls rolled back the years to overhaul Great Britain under-21 star Tom Brennan in heat 14 and seal the trophy.

Pedersen, who is set to stage a farewell meeting at Poole before he hangs up his kevlars, brought the curtain down on his competitive career by topping the Panthers heat score chart to lift his fourth top-flight league title – adding to the three he won with the Pirates in 2003, 2004 and 2008.

The double FIM Speedway World Cup winner admits he almost doesn’t want his stint with the Panthers to end, he told Eurosport: “I couldn’t have dreamed of anything better to finish it all.

“I am so pleased to be part of this team. I nearly thought about taking another season with these boys. It has been fantastic.

“We finished top of the table and winning the play-offs now with Dad’s Army is just the best. It’s fantastic. I can’t ask for anything more. What a night to finish off. I am just enjoying the moment and I am so pleased to be back in British speedway.”

Nicholls raced to 10 paid 11 points with a dramatic display, while Denmark’s Michael Palm Toft racked up 12 paid 13 – defying broken fingers to fight his way through the play-offs in determined style. GB star Chris Harris also impressed with a typically all-action performance on seven paid 10.

A delighted Nicholls paid tribute to a fantastic team effort over the season, before dedicating his side’s victory to former Peterborough boss Colin Pratt, the legendary British promoter who passed away earlier this month.

He said: “It’s huge. It’s unreal. It’s a huge honour to be the captain, but seven of us are captains.

“It has been a full team effort. We have been up against it, but we brought it home. Dad’s Army – how cool is that?!

“The amount of fans that turned out makes it special and obviously we are dedicating this win to Colin Pratt, bless him. He was a huge part of Peterborough and my career. That’s for you, Colin!”

Belle Vue top gun Dan Bewley racked up 15 points from six races, while Brennan starred on 11 points at reserve.

Aces boss Mark Lemon admits Panthers had too much scoring strength over the two legs. He said: “Credit where credit is due – the Panthers topped the table and have been the team all year. They just had a bit too much firepower tonight and obviously on Monday.

“I am really proud of my boys. I am really proud of our fans who have been travelling and supporting us. I want to say thanks to our owners and sponsors. It has been a stellar year in very tough times. It’s a credit to everyone just to get to the Grand Final.

“It hurts. I am hurting like they are hurting. We have to bounce back from it. I have been here before as a rider at this very track. I know what it feels like to be in their shoes. I am gutted for them. I just want to put my arms around them and pick them up. But it has been a classic event and well done to Peterborough once again.”

For full details of tonight’s result and scorers, click here: https://bit.ly/2TwXSFx

Photo: Taylor Lanning

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