Witches keep on rocking

WORLD Champion-elect Jason Crump produced a master-class performance at Foxhall Stadium last night, but it was the Ipswich Witches who ran out victors by 52 points to 43.

By Mike Bacon

By Mike Bacon

WORLD Champion-elect Jason Crump produced a master-class performance at Foxhall Stadium last night, but it was the Ipswich Witches who ran out victors by 52 points to 43.

Crump raced to an 18-point maximum and only Robert Miskowiak got ahead of him for almost two laps in heat nine. But after Crump took advantage of Miskowiak's error, he raced off to his third victory and by the end of the night had completed a perfect five-ride maximum.

The night however, belonged to the Witches.

Strong from the start, they raced into an early eight-point lead with maximums in the first two heats and quite honestly, there never looked any danger that the Aces were going to win this one.

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Solid throughout, the Foxhall faithful found a new hero in teenager Steve Boxall who, on his Foxhall debut, raced to three paid heat wins and looked as impressive as his scoreline suggests.

Ipswich moved to within three points of the Aces in the play-off position and this was a thoroughly professional effort from the home side on a beautifully-prepared track that produced some great racing.

The Witches shot into a perfect 10-2 lead after two races as the Aces wondered what had hit them.

But while Protasiewicz and Jansson's first-heat maximum was a routine effort from the gate, heat two saw the Ipswich reserves do it the hard way.

It was Belle Vue's Tom P Madsen who made the start but Boxall, in his first competitive race around Foxhall, was soon after him and rounded him on the fourth turn to take the lead.

Tobi Kroner was also up for the challenge and he repeated the same manoeuvre on the beleaguered Madsen in a terrific heat of speedway.

Kenneth Bjerre was the next visiting rider to feel the force of an Ipswich pass as Witches' skipper Louis tracked him for two laps before bursting past him down the start/finish line going into lap three.

It had been a storming start by the home side, but the Aces hit back with world champion-elect Jason Crump winning comfortably.

Heat five was another corker as Joe Screen took everyone wide on the first turn and his partner Simon Stead nipped through to join him at the front.

Again, it was Louis in pursuit and he was all over Stead, first trying the inside line and then the outside before splitting the Aces pair on the final bend in exciting fashion.

But Ipswich's early eight-point lead was now just four and it was not helped in heat six as Protasiewicz touched the tapes and started 15 metres back.

Crump won his second race of the night and it took Protasiewicz all four laps to overhaul Madsen, which he did on the line, winning by a tyre's width.

Boxall produced an electric start from gate four with Mark Loram tucked in behind as the Witches regained their eight-point advantage.

Jansson won heat eight before Robert Miskowiak, who had yet to score a point, brought the Foxhall crowd to their feet as he led Crump down the back straight in heat nine.

But the young Pole, under severe pressure from Crump, made a mistake on the fourth turn of lap two and that was all the Aces' star man needed as he nipped through for victory.

Protasiewicz won his second race of the night as Ipswich's lead grew to 10 points at 35-25, and that meant a tactical ride for the Aces' Screen.

But he could not catch Loram as Boxall was shown the toughness of the Elite League in a heat advantage for the visitors, which left the score, with four heats to go, at 38-30 in the home side's favour.

Boxall was at it again in heat 12 as he held off a ferocious challenge from James Wright to follow Miskowiak home as Ipswich now took their lead to 12 points and as good as had the match all wrapped up.

The classy Crump took a tactical ride in the next and duly won, but Protasiewicz did well to pin Stead on the inside line, although it was the Aces who picked up a 6-3.

The Witches were ahead by nine points with two heats to go and Louis had to work hard to move Bjerre on the second lap of heat 14, but with Boxall missing the start, Ipswich could do no more than a drawn heat.

That left Crump to finish off a perfect night for him, but it was far from a perfect night for the Aces and Ipswich will feel that they might have just done enough to secure the bonus point in the return leg next month.

IPSWICH Witches No. 1 Piotr Protasiewicz rides in the Grand Prix speedway qualifier semi-final at Zarnovica, Slovakia on Sunday.

The 32-year-old Pole has struggled in this season's GP series and he needs to finish in the top four on Sunday to be certain of reaching the qualifying final.

No other Ipswich riders are involved in the three semi-finals, with the other two taking place in Poland and Hungary this weekend.

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