Kroner leads the way in Witches win

Ipswich 53 Oxford 40IPSWICH Witches' young German star Tobi Kroner led the way as the Suffolk side pulled themselves off the bottom of the Sky Sports Elite League at Foxhall Stadium last night.

By Mike Bacon

Ipswich 53 Oxford 40

IPSWICH Witches' young German star Tobi Kroner led the way as the Suffolk side pulled themselves off the bottom of the Sky Sports Elite League at Foxhall Stadium last night.

The Witches won 53-40 and it was Kroner who was the hero of the night, with four impressive heat victories in his 12-point tally.

In a thoroughly enjoyable meeting between two evenly-matched sides the racing was as good as any seen at Foxhall so far this season and although the visitors got within two points of the home side after heat nine, the Witches never really looked likely to lose this one.

There was also a welcome return to form for skipper Chris Louis, who fittingly was involved in two 5-1 maximums near the death which pulled the Witches away to victory and also gave them an excellent chance of gaining a bonus point when they race at Cowley later in the season.

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The only down side for the Witches was the continued disappointing form of Marcin Rempala, who struggled from the gate in two of his races and in his only other ride took countryman Robert Miskowiak into the fence on turn two.

That was in heat seven and it could have been a nasty incident for both Polish riders, however both were to their feet with seemingly no ill effects.

Having disposed of Wolverhampton three weeks ago at Foxhall and now Oxford, this was another confidence-boosting victory for the home side, even with Adam Shields not looking as strong as he had done in previous guest appearances.

As well as the victory some of the racing was quite superb.

With the rain drizzling down from the start, heat one was a corker, with Kim Jansson and Shields all over Freddie Eriksson, who was in second place. And it was Shields who eventually muscled his way through as the visitors took an early lead.

Kroner won his first race of the night with Rempala chasing Shaun Tacey, but to no avail in the next and after Louis and Zibi Suchecki gated to a 5-1 in heat three, the Witches looked well on course for a comfortable victory.

Heat four was quite extraordinary, with Kroner again leading the way and Miskowiak going wide on turn two to allow both Oxford riders, Jesper Jensen and Lubos Tomicek through. Miskowiak kept chasing and on the final bend incredibly rocketed in between a slowing Jensen and a startled Tomicek to bring the crowd to their feet as the Witches roared on.

Louis had to work hard to pass Eriksson in heat five before Miskowiak and Rempala crashed in heat seven, and Oxford began to settle down.

Kroner's over-enthusiasm cost him a point in heat eight and Louis again had to come from the back to pass Tomicek as the visitors rallied well and were now trailing by just two points.

The drizzle had stopped and the Witches needed some inspiration and it was Shields and Jansson who provided it with a comfortable maximum in the next, while Miskowiak became the first rider to lower the colours of Oxford's impressive guest rider, David Howe, in heat 11.

Louis shepherded the impressive Kroner round comfortably in heat 12, and although Howe, as a tactical rider, gained six points in the next, his partner Jensen made a woeful start and the Witches still led by seven points.

Fittingly, it was Kroner to the fore again in the penultimate heat, with a tapes-to-flag victory to seal the points for the Witches and Louis' brilliant first and second turn in the final heat got partner Miskowiak through as the Witches finished on a high and sent their fans home more than happy with their night's entertainment.

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