Louis gamble backfires

Chris Louis' gamble on making his comeback after a broken collarbone backfired as Ipswich Witches lost their final home Elite League meeting of the season.

By Elvin King

Chris Louis' gamble on making his comeback after a broken collarbone backfired as Ipswich Witches lost their final home Elite League meeting of the season.

After two rides at Foxhall Stadium last night, Louis had to call it a day with fears that he may have re-broken the bone, which could rule him out for the rest of the season.

Louis was fine in the warm-up, but when his first race-heat three-went into the first bend, he locked up and did more damage.

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The race was stopped to be re-started, and Louis was in no position to threaten the opposition and tailed off at the back.

He went out again in heat five, but again had little success and it was no surprise when he pulled out.

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Louis was under a certain amount of pressure to make a return with Mark Loram, now number one in the Ipswich averages and not eligible to take an extra ride, if Ipswich had used the rider replacement facility for Louis.

With Piotr 'Pepe' Protasiewicz out of form, there was a distinct possibility that Ipswich would not have covered well for their skipper if he had sat out another meeting.

But, as it turned out, the facility would have been a much better bet and Ipswich would no doubt have won against Eastbourne and virtually confirmed that they would finish the season no less than fourth from bottom.

Now they face the possibility of Eastbourne overtaking them, with the Eagles still to ride at bottom club Arena Essex, while Ipswich's last fixture is at Oxford next Wednesday.

Loram missed out on a maximum when he was beaten by Adam Shields in the final race and it was another highly-entertaining, swashbuckling display by the former world champion.

Robert Miskowiak gave evidence that he is determined to keep his place at Foxhall next season, winning three races, including a success over former world champion Nicki Pedersen in heat nine.

Miskowiak was quick, clocking a very fast time of 59.2 seconds in heat three, before he upset Pedersen in the final race, when Ipswich needed a 5-1 to draw the meeting.

He went into the third bend on the last lap forcing his machine inside Pedersen's and forced the Dane to slide under the air fence.

Miskowiak also hit the deck and was the subject of an angry reaction from Pedersen as the riders went back to the pits.

Ipswich came last in all but two of the races and this was the reason for their defeat. Eastbourne only won five heats, but they filled the minor places for the majority of the night, with their reserves Lewis Bridger and Cameron Woodward outscoring the home lower order.

With the second strings also scoring consistently, Eastbourne had built up a six point lead after six races.

This they held onto until race 10, when Protasiewicz found some form to partner Kim Jansson to a maximum heat success. And when Loram won heat 13, and Protasiewicz finished third, Ipswich were level with two heats remaining.

Referee Jim McGregor then controversially ruled that Ipswich could not use Carl Wilkinson to take a reserve ride for the injured Louis in race 14.

The referee insisted that Louis' injury had not been sustained in the meeting and that he should have three programmed rides, as per the regulations.

Ipswich protested to no avail, and Eastbourne duly collected a 5-1, despite Tobi Kroner making a gallant effort and going past David Norris briefly on the first and second laps.

Whether any repercussions take place from the decision made by the referee remains to be seen, but it is unlikely, although Louis was fit enough and had been cleared medically at the start of the meeting.

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