REDCAR Bears collected two Premier League points from a cracking see-saw meeting which could have gone either way right until the very end.
And Ecco Finishing Bears fans were further buoyed by the news that promoter Brian Havelock expects to have a new face in the side by Monday and possibly earlier than that.
The new arrival will see Jan Graversen back at reserve which would give the side a real sting in the tail.
The Bears’ meeting against Peterborough at South Tees Motorsports was a proper corker.
It had great racing, drama and controversy and the outcome was anyone’s guess until its climax as the pendulum swung to and fro.
The visitors arrived without Ales Dryml who was injured the night before, although rider replacement served them very well and brought them nine points from a hole left by a rider with an average of 6.58.
And they were soon shorn of another top end rider when Lasse Bjerre was withdrawn by the paramedic staff after being diagnosed with concussion.
Bjerre had first fallen shortly after the start of heat six but was allowed back into the rerun, only to hit the deck again as he robustly attempted to keep Richard Lawson at bay.
The medical staff found him to be suffering from concussion but he and his team were none too happy with the decision to withdraw him, resulting in referee Jim McGregor going into the pits to settle the issue once and for all. He agreed the medical staff had acted correctly.
It all added to the absorbing nature of a match which started with Peterborough taking a 4-2 lead from the first heat as Bears No 1 Lawson trailed a rare last before Luke Crang battled past Joe Jacobs to win his first race back from injury as the hosts levelled things up straight away.
It was 18-12 to the Panthers before the 5-1 that followed Bjerre’s exclusion from heat six cut the gap but the margin was back up to four points going into heat eight.
The outstanding Hugh Skidmore, who dropped just one point all night, won that one while Rafal Konopka beat Nicki Barrett from behind and a 5-1 from the spectacular Carl Wilkinson and Graversen next time out put the Bears ahead for the first time.
Any thoughts of the Bears pushing on from there were quickly extinguished however when Lawson’s bike conked out before the start of heat 10 and – on Aaron Summers’ machine – he had to come off a 15 metre handicap.
Skidmore duly won but although Lawson was all over ex-Bear Ulrich Ostergaard and Barrett, he couldn’t find a way through.
With three races left the Panthers led 38-34 but the belligerent Bears pulled it out of the bag at the end.
First, with the inside line becoming slick, Lawson picked up some grip on the outside to fly past Joe Jacobs while under pressure from Ryan Fisher and his 5-1 with Summers levelled it up at 39-39.
Heat 14 as a good a race as you’ll see, with Wilkinson and Ostergaard swapping and changing at the front before the former took the chequered flag, and with Crang collecting a vital third place it gave the Bears a two point-lead going into a last heat decider.
And the Bears were assured of victory when the impressive Blackbird bit the dust as he looked for a way round Lawson on turn two. He was excluded from the rerun with The Law and Wilko took 4-2 to round off a thrilling night.
BEARS: Carl Wilkinson 12, Hugh Skidmore 11, Richard Lawson 7+2, Aaron Summers 7, Jan Graversen 4+1, Luke Crang 4, Rafal Konopka 2.
PANTHERS: Lewis Blackbird 13, Ulrich Ostergaard 12+1, Joe Jacobs 6, Ryan Fisher 5+2, Nicki Barrett 4+1, Lasse Bjerre 3 (w/d), Danny Phillips (No 8) DNR, R/R for Ales Dryml.