Witches team boss Hawkins backs German teenager Haertel to be a success at Foxhall

Witches team manager Ritchie Hawkins and skipper Danny King. Picture: STEVE WALLER

Witches team manager Ritchie Hawkins and skipper Danny King. Picture: STEVE WALLER - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Ipswich Witches team manager Ritchie Hawkins believes German teenager Michael Haertel has all the tools required to be a success in his debut British speedway season.

The 19-year-old is the only new face in the 2018 Witches side, with six of the seven originally named in last season’s team returning to Foxhall, and arrives with an impressive CV which includes three German Under 21 titles, international appearances and the scalps of Chris Holder and Renat Gafurov during the 2014 Best Pairs Cup.

The Witches have been following Haertel for some time and, while Hawkins knows success is far from guaranteed, is confident he has the attributes necessary to hit the ground running.

“The first time I became aware of him was my first season in charge when we were struggling a little and were looking around for options,” Hawkins said,

“We saw his record and his results were good and we were impressed. Chris (Louis, director of speedway) has some German contacts and they speak of him highly.

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“We’ve kept an eye on him since them and considered him for the team in the season just gone, but we waited for him to finish his schooling which is obviously very important.

“He rides long track as well as speedway so he is well prepared for different tracks, but you never know how young riders will react. That’s why so many want to come to England because it can pay a massive part in people’s development.

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“He is very professional, very focused and knows what he wants to achieve.

“He had a ride at Foxhall near the end of last season and seemed to settle in well. He adapted well to the track and if he can get round Ipswich he is probably going to be able to get round everywhere.”

Hawkins believes Haertel is beginning his British career in the perfect environment, given how many experienced heads there are to offer advice from within the Witches camp.

“With young riders you need to give them a bit of time to learn but we’re prepared to do that,” he said.

“It’s a good club for him to come to because there are plenty of people here with a lot of experience. Danny (King) and Rory (Schlein) will be good in the pits and if riders use Chris (Louis) well they can gain a lot.”

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