Witches win overshadowed

IPSWICH Witches thrashed Reading Bulldogs at Foxhall Stadium last night by 29 points, but it hardly tells the tale of what was a sad night for British speedway.

By Mike Bacon

IPSWICH Witches thrashed Reading Bulldogs at Foxhall Stadium last night by 29 points, but it hardly tells the tale of what was a sad night for British speedway.

Absolutely no blame can be attached to the Ipswich Witches' management and indeed, if it was not for John Louis' gesture in lending Reading's Rory Schlein - who was down as a guest for Ipswich - this match would have been so one-sided it would have bored most people senseless.

The reason Schlein was switched to the Reading side was due to the non-appearance of Greg Hancock, who had missed his flight from Sweden, and Matej Zagar, whose flight into Stansted was delayed and he only arrived at Foxhall after heat eight.

There are many words that could be used to describe the standard of the Reading team that turned up last night, but it would be dangerous to say too much other than the unprofessional position certain riders put both clubs in last night has done nothing for the sport.

Without Hancock and Zagar only Schlein, and to a lesser extent Andy Smith, the 41-year-old veteran, put up any resistance to a solid effort by the Witches, which surprisingly produced some excellent races last night.

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Robert Miskowiak made a brave back-straight pass of both Reading riders in the first heat, and the Witches recorded three maximum 5-1s in the next three races, with Chris Louis and Zibi Suchecki both sweeping past Mark Lemon in heat three.

Schlein was out for a tactical ride as early as heat five, and he picked up six points as Reading narrowed the gap to seven but the Witches were soon back on track and after another maximum in heat six, Rempala brought the Foxhall fans to their feet, stalking and then passing Lemon on the final bend in an exciting finish.

Heat eight was another corker, with Tobi Kroner passing Cory Gathercole at the back before Kim Jansson found a way past the startled Jonas Davidsson on the final lap in exciting fashion, with the Witches already as good as home with still half the meeting to go.

Suchecki got out of shape in the next, and even the appearance of Zagar in the Reading pits could do little to inspire his team-mates.

Rempala, who has struggled from the start, burst into life in heat 11, roaring round Schlein on turn two to win impressively and surely to give himself a bit more time to prove he can cut it in this Witches side.

Louis and Kroner gated to a 5-1 in the next and Jansson went from first to third in another good bout in heat 13, with Smith again proving good value.

The Witches finished strongly with Louis passing Schlein in determined fashion in the last heat, but unfortunately this meeting will not be remembered too much for solid Witches' performance and there are sure to be repercussions for Reading after their thoroughly unsatisfactory team line-up.

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