Ipswich Witches’ manager hails Ben Barker after Leicester win

Ben Barker

Ben Barker - Credit: Archant

Team manager Pete Simmons hailed Ben Barker after the 25-year-old’s dramatic heat victory set Ipswich Witches on their way to a crucial three points in their Premier League clash with Leicester yesterday.

The Witches eventually ran out 53-37 victors, thrilling a large crowd at a baking hot Foxhall Stadium, having been troubled at the halfway stage by the performance of former Ipswich rider, Lasse Bjerre.

Bjerre top-scored for the Lions with paid 14 but was involved in the race of the day, with the Witches leading by two, when he was overtaken on the last lap by Barker who had trailed at the back for much of the race.

Barker and his partner Ritchie Hawkins both passed another former Witch, Kevin Doolan on lap three, before the Birmingham Brummies rider steamed past a stunned Bjerre with the chequered flag poised.

That victory put Ipswich four points clear with five races left and the hosts, who only trailed for one race, never looked back with Leigh Lanham, Rohan Tungate, Barker, Adam Ellis and Morten Risager grabbing further race wins.

“It looked a bit iffy at one point but we got ourselves together, having thrown half a dozen points away in the first six races with silly mistakes,” said Simmons.

“Ben was involved in the race of the season, having been in last place for the first three laps of race 10, and that got the crowd to their feet which was great to see.

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“That was the turning point. We had made mistakes previously but once the riders saw what Ben could do, they joined in the party and in the end it was comfortable.”

The win marked the Witches’ first of their Premier League campaign, having picked up two points from a 45-45 draw at Scunthorpe on April 19 in their opening encounter of the season.

“We outscored their reserves which wins meetings,” said Simmons.

“Leicester won their first two rider replacement races but we thought their luck would run out and they left it a bit late in the end.

“Morten (Risager) did his job today, Rohan (Tungate) recovered after a bad start and when Adam Ellis rides like that, you are always going to do well.”

Full meeting report and stats in today’s Ipswich Star and East Anglian Daily Times