Vintage display from Louis in away win

A VINTAGE display from skipper Chris Louis saw Ipswich Witches collect their second away Elite League victory of the season last night.

By Elvin King

A VINTAGE display from skipper Chris Louis saw Ipswich Witches collect their second away Elite League victory of the season last night.

Louis dropped just one point as the Suffolk side travelled to Purfleet to beat a depleted Arena Essex side and boost their chances of finishing the season in a play-off place.

Roared on by a large number of Witches' fans, Louis' team backed him up and although the meeting went to a last-heat decider the visitors were in front from the second race.

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Louis only lost to Leigh Lanham in his opening ride but after that he was at his peak and had the beating of ex-Ipswich rider Scott Nicholls, who was guesting for the Hammers.

With a home meeting against Arena Essex tonight Ipswich will be confident of collecting three more points to move further up the table.

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Arena Essex are struggling with injuries and this was a good time to travel to face them. But the work still had to be done and the Witches were in determined mood on the tricky little circuit and were well worth their victory.

German Tobias Kroner had a satisfactory debut, making some quick starts and being on the pace in his four races. He was unlucky to be found guilty of touching the tapes in heat eight when it looked as though the strong wind may have gusted them against his front wheel. He took part in the re-run starting 15 metres behind but was unable to make up the ground.

Ipswich started well enough with Piotr 'Pepe' Protasiewicz leading for a circuit in heat one before the referee called a halt because the Pole had not been sitting still at the tapes. In the re-run Nicholls gated to take the chequered flag.

Daniel King and Kroner reached the first turn ahead in the next heat with King going on to win comfortably and Kroner holding off King's brother Jason easily enough.

Heat Three saw another quick start by the Ipswich riders with Robert Miskowiak joining Louis round the first turn. But Lanham found plenty of grip and burst inside both visiting men coming out of the second bend.

The drawn heats continued in race four with Joonas Kylmakorpi getting the better of Kroner down the back straight after the Ipswich reserve had again looked sharp from the start. Mark Loram briefly went past Kylmakorpi going into the first bend of the last lap but had to settle for second place.

Protasiewicz won heat five but Miskowiak was passed by both home riders as they went into the back straight, and in heat six Ipswich stretched their lead when Loram and King made good starts but Nicholls was able to go beyond King on the first lap, although Loram held off Nicholls comfortably.

Heat seven saw Ipswich turn the screw with Miskowiak doing well to hold up Kylmakorpi going round the inside of the first two turns with Louis flying round the outside to make it a 5-1 to the visitors.

Heat Eight saw Kroner allegedly touch the tapes and there was a 10-minute break while the midsummer sun went down as it was affecting riders going into the third bend.

Louis won the race as a rider replacement for Kim Jansson with the facility accruing five points - the Swede is taking part in his National championships.

Race nine saw Loram go past a disappointing Steve Johnston on the second bend and then the former World Champion roared outside Lanham on the fourth bend in another 3-3 with Ipswich continuing to hold an eight-point lead.

Louis gated well to beat Nicholls in heat 10 with the busy Brent Werner gaining one point with the rider replacement facility for the injured Henning Bager, accruing a paid four points.

The Hammers had their first heat advantage in heat 11 when Protasiewicz passing Kylmakorpi on the third bend to take second place in a race won by Werner.

Miskowiak had a fine ride to win heat 12 to settle the Ipswich nerves but there was some cause for anxiety in heat 13 when Protasiewicz was excluded after making the best start. The referee accused him of not remaining still at the tapes and having warned him once excluded him from the re-run.

Reserve Daniel King came in but finished last with Loram unable to make up any ground after he had been outgated by Kylmakorpi and Nicholls.

Louis had another majestic ride to win heat 14 and keep Ipswich in the driving seat with Jason King holding off Kroner for two laps and gaining third place.

Nicholls, who was guesting for Mikael Max, who like Jansson was taking part in the Swedish Championships, was given a nominated ride in the final heat with the Hammers needing a 5-1 to force a draw.

Ipswich team manager Mike Smillie opted for the tried and trusted Louis/Loram partnership and they came up trumps with Louis having another exceptional first two bends to race on and take the honours.

Loram finished third to make it a good night on the longest day of the year for Ipswich.

Witches' team manager Mike Smillie said: “It was a good time to ride at Arena Essex as they are suffering all sorts of injury problems.

“And we made the most of it at a period of the season when we need to start picking up an away win or two.

“We have to be pleased with Chris Louis, who led by example and gave a near faultless display and he received good back up from the rest of the lads.”

Arena Essex promoter Ronnie Russell was not surprised at his side's defeat. He said: “We were very much under par and at one time during the day I felt like pulling the plug.

“We will keep trying to pull things round and I can only ask our fans to stand by us in this time when we are affected by injuries and politics.”

KIM Jansson returns to the Ipswich Witches side for tonight's return Elite League meeting with injury-hit Arena-Essex at Foxhall Stadium (start 7.30pm).

The 24-year-old missed last night's meeting at Purfleet because he was riding in the Swedish Championship.

Tonight's meeting marks the home Ipswich debut of German Tobias Kroner, who will be riding at Foxhall for the first time.

Arena-Essex welcome back their No. 1 Michael Max, who was also involved in Sweden last night. The Hammers switch skipper Steve Johnston and Leigh Lanham in their riding order.

Tonight's likely line-ups:

Ipswich: P Protasiewicz, K Jansson, R Miskowiak, C Louis, M Loram, D King, T Kroner.

Arena-Essex: M Max, rider replacement for H Bager, L Lanham, S Johnston, J Kylmakorpi, B Werner, AN Other.

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