Ritchie Hawkins happy despite Ipswich Witches’ narrow loss at Peterborough Panthers

Lewis Kerr scored seven at Peterborough

Lewis Kerr scored seven at Peterborough - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Ipswich Witches team manager Ritchie Hawkins was left more than impressed with his side’s performance at Peterborough yesterday afternoon.

In a dead rubber League Cup clash, the Witches lost in a last-heat decider after skipper Danny King crashed out in the final heat.

King had gone into the that race unbeaten but with the rain coming down he caught the dirt on the outside of the track and hit the deck – he was excluded.

It left Peterborough’s top two riders on the night, Craig Cook and guest Kenneth Hansen, to gate ahead of Nico Covatti to victory, as the home side took the spoils by three points.

In the grand scheme of things the result meant nothing as neither side could qualify for the semi-finals. But with the two teams set to meet in the Premier League at the same venue next Bank Holiday Monday, it was certainly Ipswich who will have been happier with their performance.

“I’m really pleased with the team,” Hawkins said.

“Of course we would have liked to have won, but we knew the meeting was a dead rubber and we had riders out there trying set-ups and doing different things and I wanted them to do that.

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“The result was immaterial but our performance as a 1-7 wasn’t and we need to perform like that every meeting. They (Peterborough) had to use the tactical ride to keep us under control, I didn’t have to use it.

“We all had an eye on next week and that was the best performance as a team we have had this season.”

The Witches did appear to be cruising to victory after an explosive start to the meeting from the Foxhall side saw them go 21-9 points ahead after heat five, with King and Lewis Kerr scoring two 5-1 maximums.

Kenneth Hansen, who was an inspired guest for the injured Nikolaj Busk Jakobsen, took a tactical ride in heat seven for the homesters and, along with Simon Lambert pulled seven points back. The same pairing were at it again in the next heat as the Witches big lead had been eroded in the space of two races.

Covatti steadied the ship for the visitors, as Paco Castagna enjoyed a fine ride to grab third place with the Witches back in the ascendency, if only by a point.

Cook, making his debut for the Panthers after joining them last week in a doubling-up role with Belle Vue, went from third to first in thrilling fashion in heat 10, but the Witches hit straight back once more through the King/Kerr partnership. Morten Risager flew past Ulrich Ostergaard on the first lap of heat 12 and when King beat Cook with a fine pass around the outside on lap two of the next heat, the Witches retained their one-point advantage with just two races to go.

Ollie Greenwood battled superbly to hold off the attentions of Emil Grondal in the penultimate heat 14 as the visitors from Suffolk went into heat 15 a point ahead.

However, it all went wrong for Ipswich as King fell on the opening bend as the rain came down.

The track was very greasy by this stage and when the Peterborough duo of Cook and Hansen gated to the front, with King excluded, it was game over for the Suffolk side.

n There is no meeting at Foxhall this Thursday.

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