Jason Crump signing ‘was a no-brainer’ says Ipswich Witches boss Louis
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Ipswich Witches promoter Chris Louis has admitted signing Jason Crump for the 2020 season was ‘a no-brainer’.
The announcement yesterday of three-time world champion Crump's return to the track, with the Witches - after an eight-year lay-off - sent the sport into meltdown, such was the interest.
Louis says he wasn't surprised by the reaction.
"Yes, I had to switch my phone off to be honest. It was jammed," Louis laughed.
"The news seems to have gone down well with our fans and fans of the sport. It's a big move, a massive move for Jason and a massive move for the Witches as a club.
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"But there have been no twisting of arms by either side. In fact it has been Jason who has been banging my door down for a month or more since we had initial talks in November.
"Our chats started back then and by December we both realised we were serious about this and it has snowballed from there."
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Crump is one of the best riders of his generation.
He won the world title in 2004, 2006, 2009 and is a former world under-21 champion.
He has won the British GP five times and 23 GPs in all. Among a plethora of top titles, he has also won the Elite League riders championship four times and the Speedway World Cup with Australia, twice.
But Louis warns against over expectations.
"Everyone has to accept that Jason has had almost eight years out of the saddle," Louis said.
"Yes, he's ridden a few times, kept reasonably fit, but the real fitness push began a while ago and is now being ramped up for the start of the season. I know he's in the gym twice a day, every day.
"He's got a lot of work to do but he's coming back with a realistic attitude, not wanting to be world champion.
"From our point of view his signing was a no-brainer and for the sport in this country it's a big boost.
"We've got former world champion Nicki Pedersen back for Sheffield and Jason for us. Nicki has been riding more recently, but when the two meet I can assure you Jason won't want to lose!"
Meanwhile Crump said: "I think I can bring maturity and help some of the Witches young riders develop. I can give sound advice along the way too, at the end of the day when you are talking about a team, as much as you need points you need a good atmosphere and you need to have a good group of riders. I am excited to ride with everyone in the team and I am looking forward to being a 'father figure' or mentor to all of them."
The final piece of the Witches jigsaw is complete with teenager Drew Kemp also on board this season.
The Ipswich-based racer is sure to get plenty of support from the Foxhall faithful, who very much see him as 'one of their own'.
"Drew has no pressure on him, but I know he will want to score points," Louis said.
"He'll get all the help he needs this season. During my conversations with Jason he talked about the make-up of the team and I mentioned Drew, who he rode against in Australia this winter.
"Jason's reaction was what a top young bloke he is, 'I can work with him', he said.