Witches' power performance

IPSWICH Witches produced a powerhouse performance in front of the Sky Sports television cameras at Foxhall Stadium last night.The home side ran out 56-37 victors and were worth every penny of...

By Mike Bacon

IPSWICH Witches produced a powerhouse performance in front of the Sky Sports television cameras at Foxhall Stadium last night.

The home side ran out 56-37 victors and were worth every penny of that 19-point lead that could be so crucial when the bonus point between the two sides is up for grabs later in the season at Blunsdon Stadium.

The importance of bonus points in a tight Sky Sports Elite League cannot be overstated and the Witches, who have sat in the play-off positions nearly all season, made sure they stayed there after last night's win.

Led by Pepe Protasiewicz, Ipswich simply had no weak links and only Danny King failed to trouble the scorers much. However, he only arrived at Foxhall half-an-hour before the start after a treacherous journey from Poland, where he was riding in the World under-21 semi-final yesterday afternoon.

However, the rest of the side were simply awesome, with plenty of good racing and this result brings plenty of positivity to the Witches' hopes of a successful second half of the season.

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The Witches took the lead in heat one and by heat six were ahead by 12. They never relented, and only Leigh Adams contributed for the visitors on a disappointing night for them.

Protasiewicz's fine start in the first heat saw Adams receive a rare Foxhall defeat and when Swindon's Russian reserve Renat Gafurov fell in heat two, the Witches shared the spoils.

The Witches' first 5-1 of the night came in the next, with Adrian Miedzinski sportingly picking himself up off the deck after falling on the first turn, and heat four was an absolute cracker.

British Grand Prix rider Lee Richardson was away from the start with Mark Loram in hot pursuit.

The Witches' faithful have become accustomed to Loram's brilliant track craft and again he did not disappoint, roaring around the outside of Richardson on the second turn of the last lap.

The Sky cameras were in town and clearly many folk had stayed in on this balmy evening to watch in front of their screens and Ipswich were putting on a delightful performance.

Adams won heat five, but then Protasiewicz and Kim Jansson gated to another maximum before Loram made it two wins out of two for him in heat seven.

The home side were already 12 points ahead at 27-15, but Gafurov did well in heat eight to take everyone wide on the second turn to collect his first-ever victory at Foxhall.

If Witches fans thought Loram's efforts in heat four were good, then Chris Louis decided he could do just as well.

Again, the man on the receiving end was Richardson, who, just to rub salt into the wounds for the visitors, was on a double-points tactical ride.

He could do nothing about the fast-starting Robert Miskowiak and he could do even less about the wonderful efforts of Louis as he stalked Richardson for three laps before scraping past him down the home straight going into the final lap.

Poor Swindon had no answers and Protasiewicz made it three wins out of three for him personally, with Jansson flying from the start line in gate two as Ipswich took a 40-20 lead with victory already assured.

Adams came out for the tactical ride in heat 11 and won comfortably to give the Robins a little respite, but the Witches were straight back in the groove, with Miskowiak holding off the lively Gafurov in the next.

Protasiewicz was positively flying and he gated round Adams in stunning style in heat 13 as Ipswich increased their lead to 19 points in what had turned out to be one of their best efforts of the season

Louis won the next and Adams gained revenge on Protasiewicz, diving hard under the Pole on turn three, but this was Ipswich's night and they can go to Wiltshire in August with every reason to expect to pick up at least the bonus point.

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