Witches find taming Cheetahs hard work

IPSWICH Witches made quite hard work of seeing off bottom-placed Oxford at Foxhall Stadium last night. The Witches ran out nine point victors, 52-43, but it was a long night with several crashes affecting the meeting.

By Mike Bacon

IPSWICH Witches made quite hard work of seeing off bottom-placed Oxford at Foxhall Stadium last night.

The Witches ran out nine point victors, 52-43, but it was a long night with several crashes affecting the meeting.

The Witches never looked likely to lose and after Monday night's surprise home defeats for Poole and Reading, two of the Witches play-off rivals, that was the main thing.


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Reserve Tobi Kroner produced his best score for the Witches and looked impressive into the bargain, while Todd Wiltshire for the visitors starred in many of the cracking races, including some real classics with Witches skipper Chris Louis.

There were all sorts of problems on the first bend in heat one, as Kim Jansson fell and Eric Anderson and Chris Louis also got into difficulties.

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Referee Pete Clarke ordered a re-run with all four and what a super re-run it turned out to be.

Todd Wiltshire led, but Chris Louis, inside and out, was all over him, eventually sweeping up the inside of the Australian down the back straight on the last lap.

Another Ipswich rider was on the deck in the next, this time Carl Wilkinson, rearing up and smashing through the air fence on turn two, while on a five-one maximum with Tobi Kroner. Referee Clarke should have awarded the race with Kroner a long way ahead, but he decided to call a re-run with Wilkinson excluded and Anderson took advantage to beat Kroner into second place.

Robert Miskowiak and Louis gated to a five-one in the next and Mark Loram began his impressive night with a victory alongside Kroner, who was another to impress as the Witches went eight points ahead.

Wiltshire and Miskowiak had a great battle in lap one of heat five, with Wiltshire winning out and that appeared to inspire the visitors as David Howe won well from the inside gate.

The meeting had been very stop-and-start with little rhythm to it and although Ipswich were already eight points ahead, they were struggling to push home their advantage.

Loram comfortably won heat seven and Staniflav Burza was a surprise victor of heat eight, with Jansson clearly struggling after his first heat fall.

There was a rare sight in heat nine as Louis was passed by the impressive Wiltshire in another cracking race between the two riders.

Loram won heat 10 as Ipswich stretched their lead to 10 points and Oxford used Wiltshire as a tactical rider in heat 11.

But yet again, there was more drama as Loram, having not made the start, diving hard under Burza going into the third turn and both riders flew towards the fence.

Loram was up quickly but Burza took time getting to his feet, with Loram excluded from the re-run after his rather hasty attempt to pass the Oxford rider.

The re-run saw Kroner produce a super first and second turn to split the Oxford pairing, but the result that the 7-2 brought the visitors to just five behind at 37-32. Kroner and Howe had a good scrap in heat 12, with Miskowiak passing Tomicek in another drawn race.

Ipswich were making hard work of it all, but Loram and Jansson sprung to life with a dramatic five-one victory over Wiltshire in heat 13 and although Skornicki came out for tactical ride in the next, Louis passed him as Wilkinson fell at the back.

It had been a long, muggy and truncated evening but there had been some cracking speedway and none more so than the final heat.

Wiltshire shot from the start with Louis, inside, and Loram outside, all over him.

For three and three quarter laps Wiltshire held on, with no more than a bike length between all three riders. But on the final bend Louis produced a wonderful inside pass to bring the curtain down on a Witches victory and a reasonable lead to take to Oxford for the return next month.

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