Witches stay in the hunt for play-offs

IPSWICH Witches kept in the hunt for a top four finish when they gained a comfortable victory over a gallant Wolverhampton side at Foxhall Stadium last night.

By Elvin King

IPSWICH Witches kept in the hunt for a top four finish when they gained a comfortable victory over a gallant Wolverhampton side at Foxhall Stadium last night.

The Witches dropped out of the play-off places with Swindon enjoying a run of good results, so this victory was needed to keep the Suffolk side on track.

Whether their 10-point victory proves large enough to earn them the aggregate bonus point when the teams ride the return fixture at Monmore Green in September remains to be seen.

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At one time this looked a formality with Ipswich having built up a 16-point lead after heat nine, with every one of their riders having enjoyed at heat win or a paid victory.

But thanks to the wise use by Wolves team manager Peter Adams of the tactical rider rule, the visitors fought back in the later stages.

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The magnificent Peter Karlsson, who dropped just one point to follow his 21-point maximum on his last Foxhall visit, scored six points when he won heat 11.

And Freddie Lindgren also pocketed half-a-dozen points when he won heat 14 after making the best start.

And in the final heat the Wolves showed their teeth with their third heat advantage of the night, when Peter Karlsson gained revenge for losing to Pepe Protasiewicz in heat 13 by piping the Pole and seeing team-mate Lindgren finish ahead of Robert Miskowiak in third place.

Miskowiak had enjoyed one of his best-ever Ipswich meetings, making some ultra-quick starts and only being beaten Swedish star Peter Karlsson in his opening four rides.

But Miskowiak, when in the best of company in the nominated final heat, was a yard slow coming out of the tapes and the Pole is not at his best when it comes to trying to pass, even against lesser riders.

He still showed his worth on a night when the flu-stricken Chris Louis was unable to have his usual impact but the rest of the team were in good nick.

Kim Jansson continued his consistent form, Mark Loram kept up his high scoring, while Daniel King's return gave a boost to the bottom end.

And Tobi Kroner was involved in two maximum heat wins and he's certainly showing enough promise to suggest that he can become a valuable member of the Witches club.

Wolves were without three riders who were originally programmed with Ronnie Correy shaken up after being involved in the bad crash at Oxford the previous night that has left rider Ales Dryml in a critical condition with head injuries.

Troy Batchelor failed to sparkle as his replacement, and the Australian was eligible to ride, unlike when he guested for Arena-Essex last time.

Then, he rode at reserve, which is not allowed if you are a member of another Elite League club, with Batchelor being part of the Coventry squad.

Rider replacement accrued no points at all for Christian Hefenbrock, who was injured earlier in the week, while former Mildenhall rider Barrie Evans came in for William Lawson, with the latter running out of equipment in a busy period.

With Billy Hamill, a former world champion, not being the rider he was, Wolves depended on Peter Karlsson and Lindgren and it was the former who won the first race in a time that was under one minute.

The racing was not as close as in most Foxhall matches, although the home fans had no complaints when King and Kroner gained a maximum success in heat two.

Louis gestured to the referee half-way round the first lap, when in last place, having seen Batchelor make what the Witches' skipper deemed to be an illegal start.

Protasiewicz whizzed round the outside of Hamill to win heat six, as Ipswich stretched their lead before Loram made an inside pass on Lindgren on the fourth bend to win heat seven.Jansson showed his aggression when he pushed Lindgren almost into the fence on the first bend of heat eight, allowing Kroner to come through for a 5-1 for the Witches.

Miskowiak and Louis had another maximum success in the following race before Kroner fell off when he went wide on the second lap of heat 12 when trying to make up ground from the back.

With the track settling down, the best heat was heat 13, with Protasiewicz having to be sharp to out-gate Peter Karlsson and then showing super skills to hold off his opponent for the rest of the race.

Ipswich now have a break because of the World Cup next week and their next fixture is at home to Oxford on Thursday, July 27.

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