Ipswich Witches start their 2018 season as the weather at last plays ball

Back in Witches colours, Nico Covatti. Photo: STEVE WALLER

Back in Witches colours, Nico Covatti. Photo: STEVE WALLER - Credit: Picture: Stephen Waller

Ipswich Witches 2018 season is set to make a belated start tomorrow night, as Scott Nicholls and the Peterborough Panthers ride into Foxhall for a Championship Shield clash.

The Suffolk side, like so many teams in speedway, have yet to turn a wheel in anger, with almost all the Easter programme rained-off.

A double-header Good Friday date with Lakeside and an Easter Sunday gig at Peterborough were all postponed, meaning the Witches had no meetings – damaging events for the speedway business as a whole, as Ipswich team manager, Ritchie Hawkins, explains.

“Financially, the Easter meetings and the big crowds go a long way to supporting the clubs throughout the season, everyone will suffer from missing those meetings,” Hawkins said.

“It can’t be helped and we have to make the best of it and we go into Thursday excited and looking forward to it. Peterborough maybe have a slight advantage having got one meeting under their belt.

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“We are still expecting a big crowd with it being against Peterborough as there’s the local rivalry. We have an exciting team again and everyone is excited to see it.

“The fans backed the team so well last year and the team will do the same again this year so hopefully we can carry on from the end of last season with the big crowd and we have got to put in a good performance.”

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Scott Nicholls made all the headlines towards the end of last season as he guested for Sheffield in the play-off final second leg against his home town club before guesting for the Panthers in the Knockout Cup final and then he pulled on the Witches race jacket for the second leg at Foxhall.

After a winter of confusion over rule changes that prevented Nicholls from riding in the Championship, tweaks were made to the rule to allow the seven-time British champion to take his place in the Panthers side and he will undoubtedly be the man they are banking on to lead from the front.

Panthers have indeed had one meeting on track – a home victory over Lakeside, the third team in this mini group of three in Ipswich’s Shield group.

Peterborough won that 46-44 and travel to Lakeside on Friday night.

Michael Haertel makes his Ipswich debut tomorrow, while it is a return to the Witches of Nico Covatti and Danyon Hume, both riders had their 2017 seasons cut short by injury.

Thursday’s teams

Ipswich: 1. Danny King 8.87 © 2. Michael Härtel 5.20 3. Rory Schlein 8.58 4. Cameron Heeps 6.93 5. Nico Covatti 7.49 6. Connor Mountain 3.33 7. Danyon Hume 2.00. Team Manager: Ritchie Hawkins

Peterborough: 1. Scott Nicholls 9.73 2. Emil Grondal 5.04 3. Nike Lunna 5.90 4. Michael Palm Toft 6.77 5. Ulrich Ostergaard 7.12 6. Tom Bacon 2.67 7. Simon Lambert 4.56 ©. Team Manager: Carl Johnson

Referee: C. Gay

MORE: Mike Bacon’s Championship predictions. But do you agree?

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