Loram first to sign up

MARK Loram has vowed to set Foxhall Stadium alight next season - not with a torch but by scorching to regular double-figure scores in the Elite League.

By Elvin King

MARK Loram has vowed to set Foxhall Stadium alight next season - not with a torch but by scorching to regular double-figure scores in the Elite League.

The 2000 world champion has agreed terms to stay with Ipswich Witches for a second season. He was a big hit this year with Witches fans, who will be delighted with the news that he will be staying.

Loram said: “The Ipswich deal was straightforward and I am very pleased to be staying. The potential is there for me to improve on my 2006 scores, and this is my intention. I can't wait to get cracking and clocking up the double-figure scores.

“It was a very good year for me, but a shame the team dropped away at the end. I am very comfortable riding for Ipswich and, hopefully, we can win something in 2007.”

The 35-year-old is the first Witches confirmed signing for 2007. A one-year loan deal has been agreed with Terry Russell, who owns Loram's English registration. And Chris Louis has confirmed that Loram will be the Ipswich spearhead next season.

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This virtually rules out the return for a third year of Pole Piotr Protasiewicz, although this is no major surprise after the 31-year-old's form dropped away dramatically in both the 2005 and 2006 Elite League campaigns.

“Unless our plans radically change, Mark will be our No.1 next year,” said Witches skipper and rider/manager Louis. “He will lead us from the front, and I can see him scoring more freely than he did this year.

“Mark did exceptionally well, moving up to become our No.1. He proved a huge hit both on and off the track. His high scoring speaks for itself and he also brought so much else to the club.

“The other riders look up to him and it will certainly help us to build the side we want with Mark in the forefront.”

Loram's green sheet average is 8.84 and this is an increase on 8.14 with Arena-Essex in 2005. Stowmarket-based Loram first rode for Ipswich in John Louis' first season as promoter at Foxhall Stadium in 1989. But, while the Witches stayed in the National League, Loram moved up to the top flight with King's Lynn in 1990.

He has also ridden for Exeter (1997), Bradford (1998), Wolverhampton (1999/2000), Poole (2001), Peterborough (2002/03) and Eastbourne (2004/05) before riding for Arena-Essex in 2005.

Loram won the British individual championship in 1997, 1998 and 2001 but was not allowed to contest it last year because of administration problems.

“I will decide over the winter whether to ride in the British Final in 2007,” said Loram, who plans to enjoy a New Year break in Malaysia before getting down to preparations for the new season in March.

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