Witches make double swoop

IPSWICH Evening Star Witches today made a double swoop for 2008, both on and off the track.Keen to get things up and running for next season after a disappointing 2007, the Witches, who have already resigned popular Pole Robert Miskowiak, have today added German star and rider of the year Tobi Kroner to the team.

By Mike Bacon

IPSWICH Evening Star Witches today made a double swoop for 2008, both on and off the track.

Keen to get things up and running for next season after a disappointing 2007, the Witches, who have already resigned popular Pole Robert Miskowiak, have today added German star and rider of the year Tobi Kroner to the team.

Kroner's return to Foxhall is hardly a surprise, but it is off the track the biggest change comes, with team manager Mike Smillie stepping down after eight seasons in charge, and Pete Simmons, a former rider and sponsor of Kim Jansson stepping into the role.


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Smillie is taking over as general manager.

Towards the end of last season, skipper Chris Louis promised changes both on and off the track and he is being true to his word, with Simmons sure to have his own style of leadership in the pits.

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Louis, commenting on the capture of Kroner said: “In 2007 Tobi made great progress and we always wanted to have him on the team sheet for 2008 and I am delighted that the formalities have now been completed”.

Simmons, 40, may be a new name to many Witches fans, but he is a regular in the Foxhall pits and rode once for the Witches in the mid-80s, as well as junior racing at Mildenhall and Hackney.

“I cannot really wait for things to get started,” said Simmons.

“Chris and John (Louis) are working hard to put a good team together and we must be better next season. I intend to be very 'hands-on' as a manager and want to create a good team atmosphere.”

Smillie's new role will see him continue to work behind the scenes much in the manner he has for a few seasons now.

“My workload at the club has virtually quadrupled in the last few years as I now look after the administration side of things for the club. Pete is a good man who is always in the pits. He chipped in quite a bit last season and is a pretty switched on guy and I am sure that he will be a great success as team manager.”

Jarek Hampel continues to remain a major target for the Witches with the Pole already saying he would like to ride in England in 2008. But with few decisions having been made on the points limit and team building for 2008, many clubs, including Ipswich, are still biding their time.

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