Witches' victory marred by Louis injury

IPSWICH Witches won their first Elite League meeting of the season at Foxhall Stadium tonight.


IPSWICH Evening Star Witches won their first Elite League meeting of the season at Foxhall Stadium tonight.

But the welcome success was marred by an injury to Chris Louis that saw the 37-year-old taken to hospital with a suspected broken right arm.

Louis has previously suffered serious long term injuries in nasty crashes in Poland and Sweden. Neither were his fault and he was again in the wrong place at the wrong time.

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This is not as bad an injury as the head and then back problems that Louis, who is in his 20th year serving his hometown club, suffered previously, but it could still keep him out for some time.

Ipswich won well enough after a mid-meeting scare, being able to maintain their momentum right through to the end after a series of meetings where they have fallen away in the latter stages.

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It was certainly and eventful opening few races on a track that was hit by a substantial amount of water during a period of afternoon rain.

Scott Nicholls passed Steve Johnston on the fourth bend and Robert Miskowiak went beyond Bridger on the fourth bend of lap one of heat one, and in heat two Simon Gustafsson got out of shape on the fourth bend of laps one and two for first Tobi Kroner and then Chris Schramm to pass for a Witches 5-1.

Cameron Woodward came to grief on the entry to the first bend of the next race, and Lee Richardson tumbled further round the corner with the referee waiting a while before putting on the red lights.

When he did he excluded both visiting riders - leaving Louis and Swiderski to ride round for a 5-0 in the re-run.

Rye House reserve Danny Betson, who was deputising for James Brundle, who suffered leg injuries in a crash at Poole on Wednesday night, had already come to grief by the time Schramm lost control on the final circuit in heat four.

Nicholls was riding for double points in heat five, but he was beaten from the gate by the flying Swiderski from the gate. On the last circuit, Bridger lost control coming out of the second bend and crashed into the fence along the back straight.

His machine careered across the track and the following Louis had no way of avoiding it travelling at top speed. The impact shot the Witches skipper into the air, and he came down heavy on to his right shoulder and then skidded before coming to a stop close to the wheel of the track tractor. His bike crashed into the tractor parked on the centre green.

An ambulance was soon called to the incident, and Louis was attended to by paramedics by the inside of the track before being taken to hospital.

When the meeting carried on after a lengthy delay some of the heart appeared to be taken out of the Witches side and the Eagles pulled back to within six points by the start of heat 11 with Woodward passing Johnston in race ten.

A smart cut back by Nicholls on the first bend saw him win heat 11, before Kroner came in for the stricken Louis to motor from the gate and receive a huge ovation from home fans when he took the chequered flag to stretch the Ipswich lead back to eight points.

Heat 13 has proved troublesome for Ipswich this season, but Hampel flew from the outside gate to win by some distance - a victory greeted with delight by the Ipswich faithful.

When Woodward crashed when third behind Swiderski and Kroner in the penultimate race it effectively confirmed victory for the home side.

Ipswich 51: R Miskowiak 4 (2), S Johnston 7, C Louis 4, P Swiderski 12(1), J Hampel 10(2), T Kroner 11(2), C Schramm 3(1).

Eastbourne 39: S Nicholls 12, L Bridger 1(1), L Richardson 11, C Woodward 2, E Kennett 9(1), S Gustafsson 4, S Betson 0

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