Louis leads the way for Witches again

FOXHALL Stadium witnessed one of the most one-sided speedway meetings for a long time, when Ipswich Witches hammered Arena-Essex in the Elite League last night.

By Elvin King

Ipswich Witches 57 - Arena-Essex 37 (Elite League B, Foxhall Stadium: aggregate score: Ipswich 105, Arena-Essex 79)

FOXHALL Stadium witnessed one of the most one-sided speedway meetings for a long time, when Ipswich Witches hammered Arena-Essex in the Elite League last night.

In football terms, it was like Arsenal against Accrington, such was the professional exhibition from the home riders against a team that was injury-hit and unable to put up any significant opposition.


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The fans still had something to cheer, with the Ipswich men giving 100% and gaining their fifth point in two days against the second-from-bottom Essex side.

Already without three of their regulars, Arena-Essex lost their No. 1 Mikael Max after heat five when he aggravated a leg injury, having broken a thigh at the back end of last season.

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It was money for old rope for the Ipswich top men and they all enjoyed a bumper pay-day.

Chris Louis was unbeaten and showed in scoring his second paid maximum this month, that he must be a serious candidate for a Great Britain World Cup place.

Louis is in the provisional 12-man squad announced yesterday - along with Mark Loram - and although he will be 37 when the World Cup takes place next month, his pedigree was there for all to see.

He helped Ipswich comfortably collect their sixth aggregate bonus point of the season on a night when young German Tobias Kroner made a promising home Ipswich debut.

The visitors had to bring in Mildenhall Conference League rider James Purchase, who was not surprisingly way out of his depth in his five starts. King Lynn's Troy Batchelor came in to replace No. 8 Brent Werner, who was having treatment on an injured shoulder.

Whether Batchelor was legally eligible to ride is in doubt, as he is the No. 8 for Coventry in the Elite League and according to Ipswich, should only replace a missing top five rider for another club in the top flight.

Ipswich were willing to be lenient and are unlikely to take any action, such is the unfortunate position that Arena-Essex find themselves in.

But it was still an encouraging night for Ipswich and the points they have collected over the last two evenings will cement their place in the play-off positions.

Ipswich were held in the first heat when Kim Jansson went back to his old ways and made what has been a rare error this season. He passed Mikael Max on the fourth bend, but then wobbled almost to a halt on the next corner and was re-passed by the visiting rider in a race won by Protasiewicz.

Tobi Kroner soon made an impression on the home fans, scoring a point on his Witches home debut. It was no surprise that he looked a little tentative on his first laps at a new circuit, but he still showed potential, although some distance behind Daniel King, who was far too good for this company.

Louis gated to win heat three with former Witch Steve Johnston going past Robert Miskowiak coming out of the second bend.

Troy Batchelor made the best start in heat four but he was passed by Loram on the second lap, and later on the same circuit Joonas Kylmakorpi went beyond Kroner in a drawn heat.

Ipswich stretched their lead in race five, with Louis passing Max in style on the third lap, with the Swede withdrawing from the meeting after the race, following consultation with the medics.

Protasiewicz continued his merry way with a comfortable win in heat six, with Jansson pushing Kylmakorpi all the way, but failing to gain second place.

Loram won heat seven in comfort and Jansson did the same in the following race with Kroner and Ipswich-based Leigh Lanham swapping places for a couple of laps before the German had to settle for last place.

The home team then put their foot on the throttle with the Hammers by now not only depleted but also demoralised as three 5-1s followed to take the Witches 20 points ahead at the interval.

The last four heats saw Ipswich fail to extend their lead with Batchelor and Johnston both scoring double points when finishing second in heats 12 and 14 respectively.

In between Kylmakorpi became the only visiting rider to take the chequered flag when he out-gated the Ipswich pair.

In the last race, Protasiewicz locked up on the first and second bends and Kylmakorpi had no option than to ride straight into him. The Ipswich man was excluded from the re-run with the visiting rider thankfully able to get to his feet and suffering no further discomfort, as he is already riding despite a painful shoulder condition.

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