Two taken to hospital on night of drama

TWO Ipswich Witches riders were taken to hospital, as the opening night meeting of 2009 ended in drama at Foxhall Stadium.Young reserve Kozza Smith and Witches captain Leigh Lanham, were both involved in frightening crashes on a night that saw the home side begin their season with a defeat.

Mike Bacon

TWO Ipswich Witches riders were taken to hospital, as the opening night meeting of 2009 ended in drama at Foxhall Stadium.

Young reserve Kozza Smith and Witches captain Leigh Lanham, were both involved in frightening crashes on a night that saw the home side begin their season with a defeat.

But the six-point loss to Lakeside Hammers paled into insignificance for the healthy opening night crowd, after fans witnessed a night of falls, crashes and chaos.

Most seriously injured was Smith, who celebrates his 21st birthday today.

The Witches Aussie rider, who is doubling up with King's Lynn in the Premier League, suffered a collapsed lung after crashing in heat two, coming out of turn two as he and Lakeside's Phil Morris headed down the back straight.

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Neither rider gave way and Smith, on the outside, clattered into the boards and received lengthy emergency medical aid trackside, before being accompanied to Ipswich Hospital by paramedics, with the meeting held up for 40 minutes.

Two heats later it was Ipswich's other new boy, Pole Dawid Stachyra, who flew spectacularly into the second bend air fence after an untidy start to heat four.

Fortunately he managed to walk back to the pits with no more than an ice-pack on his wrist, but captain Lanham wasn't so lucky four races later.

In almost exactly the same place as Smith's crash, Lanham, this time on the outside of Stuart Robson, took the most awful-looking crash of all, with again neither rider giving an inch, in what was supposed to be an opening night challenge meeting.

Lanham was knocked unconscious and, like Smith, was rushed to Ipswich Hospital, but luckily appears to have suffered no more than a broken finger or two, having regained consciousness quickly.

For the Witches and their fans it seemed all too much to take in and reminded many of Mark Loram's terrible crash two seasons ago on opening night, a night that hasn't, as yet, seen Loram ride again.

As regards the actual meeting last night, the Witches got off to a good start, winning the first four heats, Piotr Swiderski racing hard under Kauko Nieminen to take victory in heat four.

It was all square after five heats, before Jarek Hampel, who was unbeaten all night, and Lanham from the outside, gated to a 5-1 maximum as Ipswich took a four-point lead.

But Swiderski, slow from the start, conceded his own 5-1 maximum straightaway and Lanham's fearful-looking crash in heat eight seemed to knock the stuffing out of the home side.

Danny King, who had looked impressive in his first two rides was slow from the start in heat nine, as Tobi Kroner continued to struggle, and with time running out, Lakeside pressed home their advantage.

There was still time for Hampel and Swiderski to bring Ipswich's heat victories to seven on the night (out of 12), but Lakeside had the strength in depth to see it home.

The Witches have a time curfew of 10pm at Foxhall Stadium and as that time ticked by, so the racing stopped and the meeting was abandoned.

And quite frankly most in the crowd had seen enough for one night.

Scorers

Ipswich: J Hampel 8 + 1, L Lanham 3, T Kroner 4, D King 5, P Swiderski 7, D Stachyra 6, K Smith 0.

Lakeside: L Richardson 6 + 1, J Kylmakorpi 7, A Shields 10, J Davidsson 2 + 1, K Nieminen 5, P Morris 6 + 1, S Robson 3 + 2.

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