Louis says Premiership best place for Witches... But Kemp will miss out

Witches promoter Chris Louis talks with Rory Schlein. Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.c

Witches promoter Chris Louis talks with Rory Schlein. Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Ipswich Witches promoter Chris Louis says that the Premiership is the best place for the club after it was announced they would make the step up in 2019, writes Henry Chard.

Louis explained that the time was right to make the transition into the top flight as he looks to bring success to the club.

“It was based on a few things, the Championship in many ways needed to lower its level a little to maintain its numbers and I felt the Premiership was the best place for the Witches,” said Louis.

“We are a club with great history and heritage and I want to carry that on.”

The Promoter says the club will look to fight for trophies as usual but acknowledges that they need to consolidate their position after eight seasons away from top flight British Speedway.

“It is a move back after eight years so we need to consolidate but we need to be competitive. As we always do, Ritchie (Hawkins) and I will be building a team that we think is capable of winning and we will consolidate our position.”

The former captain is excited at the challenge ahead with team building underway for the new season and he believes the quality of racing will improve at Foxhall.

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“We had talks but it is difficult not knowing the parameters for team building so it is difficult to have too much of an idea before the AGM. We have moved quite quickly with our thoughts and what team we would like to build and we are looking forward to it.

“It is a change with the positioning of the team average at 42.5 and riders having to have an achieved average of three. The teams will be strong throughout and particularly at Foxhall that will improve the racing. I am quite excited to be back in the top flight although it will be a slightly different experience for me working alongside Buster (Chapman).”

MORE: Louis: ‘I haven’t sold the soul of the club’

Louis is disappointed that the Witches won’t be able to have Drew Kemp in their 2019 team due to riders needing to have an achieved average of three but says the teenager remains a firm part of their plans for the future.

“It is disappointing not to have Drew in the team as I wanted to continue to work as closely as possible with Drew and I will. Wherever he goes I intend to be at as many of his meetings as I can to help continue with any guidance I can give him. We intend to keep him close to the club in terms of any opportunities we can give him at Foxhall to race for the Witches.

“It isn’t a case of he is lost, he isn’t. He is a club asset and he sees his place with the Witches. I think possibly the Premiership this season would have been a step too soon. You can’t have it both ways, the club has gone up and the one downside is that we won’t have Drew in the team.”

The two-time British champion believe having BT Sport covering the sport for another year is a big plus for fans.

“BT Sport is very important to the sport and I think it will be great to be back on TV and it is a big plus for the fans, particularly away from home, they can follow us. It is exciting and I think the fans have wanted us to be back in the top flight for a long while and we are now.”

In 2019, in addition to the regular club fixtures, every Premiership club will host a round of the British Youth Championship, something that Louis thinks is vital for the development of young riders in the country.

“Each Premiership club will host a round of the Youth Championship which is encouraging because we know that we have to work hard with bringing on young British riders and that starts with the youth classes. The 1.5 conversion rate increasing over the next four or five years is important to help gradually reduce doubling-up, which it will do, it won’t affect the riders that currently double-up. We have to do that but we have to do it sensibly and slowly.”

There will also be a new competition for 2019, the Premiership Supporters Cup with one race nominated by the fans via social media and Louis expects it to encourage fan interaction on racedays.

“It is exciting, it is different and it is innovative. It is fan interaction and that is the main reason for it. It is a serious cup competition at the beginning of the year but with a bit of fun fan involvement.”