Poles lead Witches tune

A Polish revolution came to Foxhall Stadium last night when Piotr 'Pepe' Protasiewicz and Robert Miskowiak both scored paid maximums as Ipswich Witches thrashed Oxford Cheetahs in speedway's Elite League.

By Elvin King

A Polish revolution came to Foxhall Stadium last night when Piotr 'Pepe' Protasiewicz and Robert Miskowiak both scored paid maximums as Ipswich Witches thrashed Oxford Cheetahs in speedway's Elite League.

The visitors suffered a home defeat at the hands of Ipswich on Wednesday night, and even though they had world champion Tony Rickardsson in their ranks, they were again outclassed.

It all bodes well for the rest of the season, although Oxford must surely be weaker opposition than Ipswich will face as the campaign progresses.

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The two riders from Poland were paired in three races, and they scored 5-1s in all three on a slick circuit that did not have an effect of reducing the entertainment value.

For the second night running, it was a commendable all-round display by Ipswich, with every rider winning at least one race, or being paid for a first place.

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Mark Loram was beaten by Rickardsson in his opening ride, but then turned on the style to confirm to Witches' fans that he can still be among the very best in the world in the shale sport.

Loram beat Rickardsson in heats 13 and 15, while Protasiewicz also finished ahead of the great Swede, although on the first occasion, Rickardsson crashed into the fence on the opening lap and was excluded.

This made Protasiewicz more determined to beat Rickardsson in the final race, a feat he achieved in commanding fashion.

It was the last visit to Foxhall of the legendary Rickardsson as he will be retiring at the end of the season to concentrate on car racing.

The Ipswich asset, who first rode at Foxhall in 1991, was his usual professional self, but he had not answer to the power of the Ipswich top men in the later stages.

The Witches are quoted at 12-1 for the Championship and with team spirit already high, this might well be worth a little wager.

With the water sprinkler broken, the track was not prepared as well as the club would have liked, but it stood up well on another cold night in front of a good attendance, with fans coming to say farewell to Rickardsson.

There was never any doubt that Ipswich would win, and for the second night running, they led from start to finish.

Adam Skornicki hit the deck, along with Miskowiak as they entered the third bend of heat three and was excluded, although the visiting rider complained to the referee, to no avail.

In the re-run, Ipswich claimed a maximum success before the visitors had their only heat advantage of the night, when Rickardsson beat Loram and Lubos Tomicek finished ahead of Daniel King.

But the Poles, Protasiewicz and Miskowiak, combined successfully in race five, with their perfectly-prepared equipment sparkling under the lights as they made their way around the track.

Rickardsson flew beyond Chris Louis coming out of the second bend of heat six, before Loram won his first race and was followed home by a comfortable-looking Jan Jaros.

Eric Andersson fell at the back on the third lap of heat eight, with the referee awarding the race, even though Tomicek was pushing Kim Jansson hard for first place.

Jansson again did well, but it was the Poles who made the headlines with another 5-1 in heat nine, after Rickardsson went too wide and over a ridge, going into the third bend when chasing Protasiewicz.

It was an unusual sight to see him in the fence on his backside, but thankfully, the six-time world champion was soon on his feet.

Louis passed Davey Watt in great style on the second lap, but Skornicki eventually got the better of Jansson for third place in a drawn heat 10.

Loram took three circuits to get in front of Andersson in the re-run of heat 11, when David Howe crashed at the same part of the track as Rickardsson, when he was also wearing the black and white helmet colour as a tactical rider and out to score double points.

Ipswich gained a 5-1 in heat 12, before Loram gated ahead of Rickardsson to notch a confidence-boosting victory and although Louis was up the exhaust of Howe, he could not pass.

Miskowiak saved his best for last when he went beyond Skornicki impressively on the third lap, to complete his maximum in race 14. Jaros just got the better of Tomicek on the line.

Ipswich sent their fans home with a 5-1 in the final heat, to make it a memorable start to the season.

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