Louis upset by change in shield format

A SWITCH in the format of the end-of-season Craven Shield tournament has upset Ipswich Witches promoter John Louis.Instead of riding home and away meetings against the other teams in their qualifying group - Eastbourne and Wolverhampton - the Witches will be taking part in a three-team tournament.

By Elvin King

A SWITCH in the format of the end-of-season Craven Shield tournament has upset Ipswich Witches promoter John Louis.

Instead of riding home and away meetings against the other teams in their qualifying group - Eastbourne and Wolverhampton - the Witches will be taking part in a three-team tournament.

This will mean that they will stage just one home meeting in the qualifiers, and this is likely to be on Thursday, September 21.


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Fans will be asked to pay another £1 on the admission charge but six of the 18 races will not feature any Ipswich riders.

“I would much prefer the format we had in 2005,” said Louis. “Then we rode two home meetings in the qualifiers under the same format as league meetings.

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“It would be fairer to us and fairer to our fans. It was a shock when we were told of the change but we will have to get on with it. It looks an even group and it could go any way.

“We would love to win something this year and we have a balanced side that is up to making a big impact on the Craven Shield.”

Ipswich suffered their first home postponement of the season when persistent rain led to an inevitable call-off of last night's planned home Elite League meeting against Eastbourne.

The decision was made at 4pm, with Louis explaining: “We were told by the weather experts that it would be a dry evening, so we decided to go for it. But, with the track partly under water and no sign of any let-up, we had no alternative than to call a halt.”

Rain was over a foot deep on the inside of the first bend and was lapping over on to the grass in-field. It also stretched half-way up the bend.

Ipswich have reserve dates, with their only other home league fixture left to stage being next Thursday's meeting with Coventry.

It proved to be a frustrating two days for the Witches with the previous night's clash at Oxford also falling foul of the adverse weather.

The meeting at Oxford has been pencilled in for Wednesday, September 20, which is only one day before the deadline to complete league meetings.

Louis explained: “It is not ideal, but if we have a rain-off on that date, and we need a point or points to qualify for the play-offs then we might have to go back the following night.”

This would mean the likelihood of no home meeting being scheduled for Thursday, September 21.

But even so, unless Ipswich qualify for the play-offs or reach the Craven Shield final, their season is set to be completed by the end of next month.

Ipswich ride at Swindon on Monday with a 5pm start as the meeting is being televised live. They will track a full strength side. It remains to be seen whether Daniel King rides at Poole on Wednesday as he has the World Under-21 final in Italy next Saturday.

If he doesn't ride at home to Coventry next Thursday, Carl Wilkinson is set to take his place.

Former Ipswich rider Scott Nicholls has withdrawn from tomorrow's Czech Republic Grand Prix due to a broken collarbone.

Great Britain skipper Nicholls hoped to compete in Prague after treatment but he has now decided that he is not fit enough.

His place will be taken by Australian Ryan Sullivan, who is the series' second reserve with Hans Andersen already taking part as a replacement for the retired Tony Rickardsson.

The wild card place is now taken by Adrian Rymel instead of the injured Bo Brhel.

Chris Louis will be in action tonight as he has been booked as a guest for Belle Vue in their re-arranged meeting at Arena-Essex.

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