Maximum man Mark gives Witches edge

MARK Loram roared to his first maximum since his triumphant return to Ipswich as the Witches put themselves in a good position to qualify for the final of the Craven Shield.

By Elvin King

MARK Loram roared to his first maximum since his triumphant return to Ipswich as the Witches put themselves in a good position to qualify for the final of the Craven Shield.

The home team dominated the meeting at Foxhall Stadium last night, taking the chequered flag in 11 of the 12 heats in which they featured.

After finishing one point behind Eastbourne Eagles in the opening leg at Wolverhampton on Monday, Ipswich now take a seven-point advantage over the Sussex side to the final leg at Arlington tomorrow.


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Wolves are out of the hunt, having suffered last night when they produced just one race winner and will just be of academic value when the Witches and the Eagles fight it out at the weekend.

Loram has been close to a full house on several occasions this year, but with just four rides in this three-team format, he made sure that he did not slip up this time.

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He produced a magnificent exhibition on the first two bends of the final race, to beat former world champion Nicki Pedersen to confirm his paid 12 points, but it was by no means a one man Ipswich show.

Easbourne were in competitive mood, having won a league match at Foxhall a fortnight ago, so the home riders needed to be at their best to ensure that they took advantage of riding on their home track.

There was no doubt that the guest booking of Scott Nicholls for Pepe Protasiewicz, who is withholding his services, strengthened the Ipswich team and the Coventry rider was in superb form, dropping just one point.

That came in heat 15 when David Norris got away with a flying start and was three yards ahead of the rest of the field before the others had reacted.

It was a surprise that the riders were not called back with Norris confirming that his tear-offs had been removed by the tapes as they came up and brushed his goggles.

Adam Skornicki proved another wise guest, and he followed on his good work from Monday by scoring a paid 10 point return with his partnership with fellow Pole, Robert Miskowiak, proving productive.

With Daniel King giving Loram superb support in their pairing, it was only Kim Jansson who was a disappointment for the Witches.

He appeared to have got things together in heat 10, when a comfortable 5-1 in partnership with Nicolls looked on the cards, until Jansson hit the second bend fence on the final circuit.

It was a spectacular collision, with Freddie Lindgren riding into both man and machine as Jansson hit the deck ahead of the Wolves' rider.

Jansson suffered bruising to his lower body and did not ride again, but should be fit for tomorrow's final leg.

There was a ten-minute delay while paramedic Paul Gillingham was taken away by ambulance, having slipped on the infield while racing to deal with both stricken riders.

He suffered damage to his knee and was taken to hospital for X-rays.

The opening time by Nicholls was the fastest of the season, with Ipswich taking a little time to find their top form, but then collecting successive 5-1s in heats 12 and 13, to put them in the driving seat.

Miskowiak and Skornicki raced to another maximum in heat 16, as the threat of rain subsided after it had began to drizzle before heat nine, but never came to much.

King was unable to score any points in the final race, but the advantage Ipswich now have gives them a good chance of an aggregate win, although Eastbourne will be fired up and it will by no means be easy.

Maximum man Mark Loram said: “It is great to score a maximum for Ipswich, although it was a bit of a cheek, as I only had four rides.

“This competition is something different, and I quite enjoy it, and so far we are doing okay.

“Having built up a lead, we are in a position to nick it on Saturday, although there is no doubt that the guests in our team strengthened us up considerably.

“Pepe (Protasiewicz) is not riding well at the moment and having Scott (Nicholls) in the team is a bit of a result and with him riding again at Eastbourne, we must try and make the most of it.”

Jon Cook, the Eastbourne team manager, said: “Really, this was an Ipswich select side and having Scott Nicholls in the team for a rider like Piotr Protasiewicz, who is struggling considerably, gives Ipswich a big advantage.

“Perhaps more respect should be given to this competition and riders should certainly be made aware by their management that Craven Shield fixtures are set to take place around the final two weeks of September.

“But we cannot really complain, as last season we had Mark Loram in as a guest for David Norris and the guest system is often a case of swings and roundabouts.”

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