Hampel impresses on his return

JAREK Hampel looked impressive as he flew round Foxhall Stadium yesterday on his return to lead the 2008 Ipswich Evening Star Witches.At the club's press and practice day, the track record holder looked in fine shape, as he enjoyed a chance to blow away the winter cobwebs.

Mike Bacon

JAREK Hampel looked impressive as he flew round Foxhall Stadium yesterday on his return to lead the 2008 Ipswich Evening Star Witches.

At the club's press and practice day, the track record holder looked in fine shape, as he enjoyed a chance to blow away the winter cobwebs.

And the former Grand Prix star, who misses out on the series this year, is glad to be back.


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“I think we have a real good chance of doing well,” Hampel said.

“I have had a look at the other teams and I think Ipswich are as strong as any. Eastbourne, with all their English riders, look good to me but after that no-one stands out.

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“When I was in the Grand Prix it was too difficult for me to ride in England. But now I am not in the GPs, I will have more time.”

Hampel is a key figure for the Witches in 2008 and is joined in the side by new stars Piotr Swiderski and Steve Johnston.

Johnston was in lively form at the press conference, firing an Aussie broadside at his team-mates, telling them that in 2008 we “race together and work together.”

It was all in good humour of course, but there was a degree of seriousness behind his sentiments. A fun-loving Aussie he may be, but Johnston has a deep desire to win.

The Kalgoorlie-born racer was a multi-cup and league winner at Coventry Bees last season and has re-joined the Witches this year after a year with them in 1997. And knowing what it takes to win, he made no bones about how he wants to see the next eight months of the Witches season pan out.

“I want to enjoy coming here every week to race,” said the Aussie, who is based in Swindon.

“I want us all to get along, we must help each other if someone is having an off-night and then we can enjoy winning.

“We won't win every meeting, we know that, but we must race together and work together. That way we will make our speedway fun.”

Johnston's outgoing personality is clearly going to be quite an asset for the Witches this year and at a bubbly press launch at Foxhall Stadium, with humour aplenty, the early signs are the Witches of 2008 are not going to lack team spirit.

“At Coventry last season I enjoyed every minute of it,” Johnston added.

“I started off at Oxford where everyone just did their own thing. It was painful. But when I moved to Coventry I have never experienced anything like it.”

Johnston's only other season with the Witches was back in 1997, where he finished the season with his highest-ever racing average.

Now in his 16th year of racing, he has been granted a benefit meeting at Coventry in June, an event sure to be well-attended by one of the sport's most popular racers.

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