King leads the way as Witches go top

A RESOUNDING victory for Ipswich Witches saw them leap to the top of the Elite League Speedway table at Foxhall Stadium last night.Five of their riders were paid for double-figure scores as the home team not only shot down the Eagles from Eastbourne, but also collected the aggregate bonus point.

By Elvin King

A RESOUNDING victory for Ipswich Witches saw them leap to the top of the Elite League Speedway table at Foxhall Stadium last night.

Five of their riders were paid for double-figure scores as the home team not only shot down the Eagles from Eastbourne, but also collected the aggregate bonus point.

The Witches needed to win by more than 12 points to gain the extra point, and they did that comfortably enough with a commanding all-round display.


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The hero of the night was teenager Daniel King, who was paid for 16 points from his six starts and gave every encouragement that he has what it takes to go on and become a world star at his chosen sport.

Irked by being overlooked for a reserve position at next week's British Grand Prix at Cardiff after finishing second in the National Under-21 final, King stepped up a gear to look far more promising than 16-year old Lewis Bridger and youngster Edward Kennett who were in the Eastbourne side.

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Bridger was originally selected for Cardiff, but when it was found he was too young, Kennett was given his place at reserve, where he will be joined by the British under-21 winner, Ben Wilson.

King proved his point last night that he deserved a position at the sport's showpiece event and he had the crowd on their toes with a number of thrilling races.

Both teams utilised the rider replacement facility with Ipswich accruing a paid 11 points in the absence of Robert Miskowiak, who was riding in the Polish championships, while Eastbourne totalled a paid eight points for the injured Adam Shields. Bjarne Pedersen did well as a replacement for the injured Nicki Pedersen, with the Poole rider totalling 16 points that included one doubling-up score when taking a tactical rider race.

But otherwise, the visitors were a rather sorry lot, with Dean Barker pulling out at the interval with a head cold and neither Bridger not Kennett allowed to get to grips with the meeting, although the former showed up well in this last outing when he chased Piotr 'Pepe' Protasiewicz right to the line.

It was Bridger's first visit to Foxhall and he certainly has talent, while it was Kennett's debut for the Eagles after making his return to the side.

Ipswich promoter John Louis wanted Eastbourne to use up a tactical ride early on and he got his wish when David Norris wore the black and white helmet colour in heat seven.

Norris won the race to claim six points, but it did not stop Ipswich, who at this time were on a roll.

They were ahead on aggregate after heat 10, and their team riding was such that the Witches collected 11 bonus points to Eastbourne's one.

This meant an expensive evening for Louis, having to pay extra points money to his men, but he will not mind that as Ipswich are now in with a realistic chance of competing for a top-four end-of-season play-off place.

Bridger fell in heat two after his throttle jammed, then went into second place on the third lap. Jan Jaros hit the fence 20 yards further on and when the race was stopped and awarded the referee deemed that Jaros was not under power, even though he got back on his bike to continue.

If the official had been less hasty, Jaros would surely have got a point. But it mattered little in the long run, with Kim Jansson getting over his barren first ride and continuing his impressive form, when he partnered Protasiewicz to a 5-1 in heat three.

This was the first of six maximum heat wins for Ipswich, with Protasiewicz and King planting home another in heat five, with King finding an inside gap to pass Norris on the second bend.

Jaros scored his first point for three matches in heat eight, with Kennett passing him after the Ipswich man had started well with Jansson.

Ipswich then claimed three consecutive maximums from races 10 to 12, with King somehow bravely squeezing between Bridger and the fence on the second lap to follow home Protasiewicz in heat 12.

Pedersen was chased earnestly by Loram and Louis in heat 13, and after Protasiewicz had carried on his good work with a victory in heat 14, the final race was a repeat of the 13th, with Pedersen again holding off in style Loram and Louis.

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