Loram leads Ipswich to opening victory

MARK Loram got Ipswich Witches off to a maximum start to the 2007 speedway season with a challenge match victory over Lakeside Hammers at Foxhall Stadium.

By Elvin King

MARK Loram got Ipswich Witches off to a maximum start to the 2007 speedway season with a challenge match victory over Lakeside Hammers at Foxhall Stadium.

The 2000 world champion took most of last season to chalk up a Witches full house, but he wasted no time in making his mark this year.

It is early days, of course, and engines were being tested and cobwebs were being blown away.

But it could have been a much worse start for an Ipswich team that has been given little chance of making a success of the campaign.

They are breaking in two riders new to British speedway in Marcin Rempala and Zibi Suchecki, and all concerned will take heart from this showing.

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The visitors have been re-juvenated off the track during the winter with a new promotion and the arrival of livewire former Eastbourne official Jon Cook as team manager.

The Hammers had three Foxhall track specialists in their side in Pole Krzysztof Kasprzak, Australian Adam Shields and Finland international Joonas Kymakorpi.

It was a big night for Witches skipper and rider manager Chris Louis, who was starting his 20th consecutive season riding for Ipswich.

His workload off the track is considerable these days, yet his biggest contribution still needs to be found on the circuit.

The 37-year-old showed no signs of the collarbone injury that saw him effectively miss the end of the last campaign.

Along with Loram, Louis will have to try and make an impact on the opposition team's big boys, which may not be too much of a problem at home but may be troublesome away from Foxhall.

The Witches got off to a spell-binding start with consecutive maximum heat wins. Evergreen Mark Loram got things going with a flying start in heat one, and he was followed home by Swede Kim Jansson, who looked in good fettle despite suffering from a cold.Heat two saw Tobi Kroner show his liking for Foxhall with a comfortable win from the tapes. And it was encouraging for Suchecki to collect his first points, showing himself to be a quick learner by finding a quick way round a circuit he only saw for the first time on Tuesday.

Lakeside's spearhead Kasprzak won heat three from the gate, and race four was also drawn with Shields, who has moved with Cook from Eastbourne, gating quickest and leaving Kroner and Miskowiak in his wake.

Ipswich stretched their lead to 10 points in the next heat when Loram did well to hold off Shields on the opening lap, but this backfired somewhat when Kasprzak was used as tactical rider in heat seven and rode for double points.

Suchecki received a huge cheer at the end of a thrilling race from an enthusiastic crowd as he held off his experienced fellow countryman until the final few yards when the visiting rider burst through on the outside.

This 7-2 to Lakeside brought them to within five points, and they moved even closer when Henning Bager hit form and Kroner trailed in last.

Shields beat Louis from the gate in heat nine, before Loram showed his class in the following race when he passed Kasprzak on the third lap down the back straight to take the chequered flagntain his winning start to the season.

Miskowiak found his form in heat 11 with an impressive victory, and Louis kept the three-point lead intact by passing Kasprzak coming out of the second bend to win heat 12.

Heat 13 is one where Ipswich's lack of top end strength might be found out, but Miskowiak roared from the outside berth to muscle himself into the lead, and he was followed home by Loram thanks to a fine first two bends by the superb Ipswich top man.

Ipswich's newcomers both beat Bager for a drawn penultimate race won by Neath.

Loram completed his paid full house with a back straight pass on Kasprzak and it put a nice gloss finish on a satisfactory 2007 opening for Ipswich speedway.

The two teams meet in the second leg of this challenge at Purfleet tonight with a 7.30pm start. Ipswich expect to be unchanged but there is a chance that Paul Hurry might return for the Hammers.

WITCHES skipper Chris Louis was reasonably satisfied with the way his new team began the season. He said: “Every rider put in a great deal of hard work during the two days and it showed tonight.

“We know we have a lot of work to do, but there is a determination to make this side a success.”

Tobi Kroner added: “I am better prepared this year and have some excellent backing. We are all looking ahead to the season.”

New Lakeside promoter Stuart Douglas said: “We are very confident of beating Ipswich in the return meeting.”

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