Witches go close to ending Aces' record
IPSWICH Witches came close to pulling off an upset and going back to the top of the Elite League table at Belle Vue last night.They took the Aces to a last heat decider, but had the satisfaction of becoming the first club to take the aggregate bonus point off the Manchester based side so far this season.
By Elvin King
IPSWICH Witches came close to pulling off an upset and going back to the top of the Elite League table at Belle Vue last night.
They took the Aces to a last heat decider, but had the satisfaction of becoming the first club to take the aggregate bonus point off the Manchester based side so far this season.
If Mark Loram had not seized an engine at the start of his first race Ipswich may have won on the night and they certainly had the home side worried right to the end.
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Belle Vue finished top of the table last year before losing to Coventry in the play-off final to decide the championship.
And they are tipped to do well again, but Ipswich showed their consistency with an encouraging display that saw them comfortably take the crucial extra point after winning 51-42 in the corresponding meeting at Foxhall Stadium.
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It was a pleasant evening in the North-West but the racing left much to be desired with precious little overtaking after the riders had found their way round the sharp first two bends.
World Champion-elect Jason Crump was in immaculate form and in the early part of the proceedings Ipswich appeared happy to let him score and gain their points off his team-mates.
But when the Australian, who heads the Grand Prix following two wins, lined up in Heat 11 he started from the dreaded gate two.
This had produced four last places and five third placings up to this point and Crump was reduced to third place with Chris Louis and Kim Jansson in the lead going down the back straight.
Louis held on for a significant win although Jansson was passed on the second lap.
This levelled the scores and the Witches looked on course for an upset although much depended on 19-year-old reserve Daniel King, who was set to ride in two of the final four heats.
King came in for Jan Jaros, who for the second meeting running failed to score, but he slipped off on the first turn as the Aces put their noses in front again.
Simon Stead became the only rider to win from gate two - a feat he repeated in the final race.
The home side stretched their lead in heat 13 with Louis struggling from the dreadful gate two before Ipswich pulled two points back in the penultimate race when perhaps they were hoping to draw level again.
Piotr 'Pepe' Protasiewicz won convincingly enough but King went a little too wide on the second bend and had to admit second best to former Witch Tom P Madsen, who scored a vital nine points at reserve for the home team.
Protasiewicz made a flying start in the last race but he was rolling at the tapes and the referee called all four riders back with the Aces this time getting away first despite Ipswich winning the toss and choosing the favoured gates one and three.
Belle Vue used the rider replacement facility for Kenneth Bjerre who suffered a swollen hand injury in the Swedish League on Tuesday.
They were able to use all of their riders including Crump for an extra heat.
Ipswich had begun well with Louis winning the first race although their two reserves both missed the start in the next.
Heat three saw Protasiewicz and the impressive Robert Miskowiak gate to a 5-1 with Stead looking all at sea for the second time on the night. The wild card for the British Grand Prix in Cardiff got his machinery in order and in winning his following four races he was a thorn in the side of the visiting team.
After Loram's misfortune in heat four Jansson did well to get the better of James Wright for third place in heat five and there were still no passes on a drying track as Crump won heat six.
Predictably the Ipswich Poles filled the minor places behind Crump in heat seven before there was some entertainment at last with Jansson flying bravely round the outside of Joe Screen down the back straight of the first lap to win heat eight.
Loram went round the outside of Wright on the fourth bend in heat nine, which was won by Stead, before Miskowiak again caught the eye to overtake Screen on the second turn of heat 10, the slick conditions ensuring Protasiewicz was unable to make up ground on Screen.
IPSWICH Evening Star Witches will be looking to win by 13 points tonight when they take on Eastbourne Eagles in the Sky Sports Elite League.
They need to do this at Foxhall Stadium (start 7.30pm) to pocket the aggregate bonus point after losing 51-39 with a depleted side at Arlington in the corresponding away fixture.
Ipswich reserves Daniel King and Jan Jaros switch riding order to give the former one more programmed ride with Mark Loram, while Piotr Protasiewicz, who is seeded to the Polish semi-final, Kim Jansson, King and Jaros can take rider replacement rides for Robert Miskowiak, who is involved in a Polish Championship quarter-final.
Eastbourne are without Adam Shields, who has been ruled out for the season following an April crash in Poland.
Former world champion Nicki Pedersen picked up an injury riding in Poland on Sunday and has cancelled all his bookings this week.
The Eastbourne No. 1 is replaced tonight by Poole's Bjarne Pedersen. Also a Grand Prix rider the fellow Dane won his first two heats riding for the Pirates at Foxhall earlier this season.
Ipswich: C Louis (7.68 average), K Jansson (5.40), Rider replacement for R Miskowiak (5.92), P Protasiewicz (7.30), M Loram (7.75), D King (3.19), J Jaros (3.00).
Eastbourne: D Norris (7.15), E Kennett (4.90), D Barker (5.20), Rider replacement for A Shields (6.43), B Pedersen (guest), C Woodward (3.00), L Bridger (3.00).
Referee: Tony Steele.