Witches continue encouraging start

IPSWICH Evening Star Witches' encouraging start to the 2008 speedway season continued apace at Foxhall Stadium last night.They hammered a demoralised Peterborough side to give themselves every chance of reaching the next stage of the Craven Shield.

Elvin King

IPSWICH Evening Star Witches' encouraging start to the 2008 speedway season continued apace at Foxhall Stadium last night.

They hammered a demoralised Peterborough side to give themselves every chance of reaching the next stage of the Craven Shield.

The visitors were never allowed to settle and failed to manage a single heat advantage on a night when Jarek Hampel and Robert Miskowiak found their true form, and Piotr Swiderski continued his marvellous start to the season.

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Reserve Tobi Kroner collected a superb paid maximum while skipper Chris Louis dropped just one point and Chris Schramm and Steve Johnston provided efficient and determined back-up.

Ipswich followed up two good away performances over the Easter holidays to erase memories of their home defeat by Lakeside in their previous home match.

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The Witches are now likely to qualify for the later stages as top team in their group unless either Peterborough or Lakeside gain three points for an away win when they meet home and away to complete the group.

Swiderski got the meeting off to a fine start again when he roared from the gate to take the chequered flag, beating former Ipswich star Hans Andersen. The Dane passed Miskowiak on the second lap, but he did not get close to catching Peterborough asset Swiderski, who clocked by far the quickest time of the season.

Ipswich notched up a 5-1 in the reserves' race against the Panthers for the second time in four days with Kroner and Schramm too sharp from the tapes for the visiting pair.

Louis carried on the good work in heat three, and with Johnston passing Morten Risager down the back straight the Witches stretched their lead.

With Hampel and Kroner getting the better of ex-Witch Daniel King on the first two bends of the next heat, the home side had a 12-point lead after just four races.

Louis was in superb form in heat five when he made the start, and then showed considerable courage - and no little skill - to hold off a determined challenge from Grand Prix leading light Andersen for the first two circuits before pulling away to win well.

A lightning-quick start by the well-again Miskowiak and smart first bend switch inside by Swiderski strengthened the lead even more as Ipswich ran riot against a side that fancied themselves collecting points on their travels this term.

The next race - heat seven - saw Ipswich fail to gain a heat advantage for the first time in the meeting when Schramm was muscled out on the opening two turns and came in last. The race was won by Hampel, who forced his way ahead of Kenneth Bjerre as the riders entered the first bend.

Heat eight always had the making of a 5-1 on this night when the credentials of the Witches for becoming a hit in 2008 were boosted greatly. And so it proved with Claus Vissing virtually waving the white flag when pulling up with engine problems within yards of the tapes.

Peterborough took the chequered flag for the first time in heat nine when King made a flying start to motor on and beat Louis without coming under too much pressure.

Swiderski - has a new rider ever made such a brilliant early impression to the Witches side? - duly won heat 10, being followed home by his fellow Pole Miskowiak.

Hampel gated ahead of Andersen, who was wearing the black and white helmet cover, in race 11 for a 4-4 heat score, and in heat 12 Kroner remained unbeaten by an opponent when he led home team-mate Louis as the rout continued.

It was a credit to track curator Bob Ellis and his willing team that the meeting went on - and on such a fast surface.

Monday's stock car meeting had done Ellis' work no favours as it was held in wet conditions, and overnight rain left large puddles on the centre green and much work to be done on the circuit.

At lunch time it was touch and go and any more significant rain in the afternoon would have meant a postponement.

The visitors collected a hat-trick of wins to finish the meeting with Andersen denying Hampel a maximum when he sped from gate one to win heat 13.

Risager then came to life - far too late -- with a victory in heat 14 before Andersen deprived the brilliant Swiderski of his maximum hopes in the final race of a memorable night.

Ipswich Witches: R Miskowiak 7+2, P Swiderski 13+1, C Louis 10+1, S Johnston 4+2, J Hampel 12+1, T Kroner 5+1, C Schramm 10+2.

Peterborough Panthers: H Andersen 14, S Simota 1, K Bjerre 6, M Risager 4+1, D King 5, H Moller 0 , C Vissing 1.

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