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Ipswich Witches promoter Chris Louis won’t make big changes to team for 2018

PUBLISHED: 12:57 20 November 2017 | UPDATED: 12:57 20 November 2017

Team spirit: Witches promotor Chris Louis congratulates Rory Schlein after his win in heat 13 of the Ipswich v Edinburgh (play-off semi final) meeting.   PICTURE: STEVE WALLER

Team spirit: Witches promotor Chris Louis congratulates Rory Schlein after his win in heat 13 of the Ipswich v Edinburgh (play-off semi final) meeting. PICTURE: STEVE WALLER

© Copyright Stephen Waller

Ipswich Witches promoter Chris Louis has said there will be no ‘ripping it up and starting again’ attitude to team changes for the Foxhall side in 2018.

Witches promotor Chris Louis helping Kyle Newman in the pits ahead of the Ipswich v Glasgow (SGB Championship 1) meeting in May. Witches promotor Chris Louis helping Kyle Newman in the pits ahead of the Ipswich v Glasgow (SGB Championship 1) meeting in May.

Just hours after the British Speedway Promoters’ Association AGM in Tenerife finished, Louis was busy looking ahead to next season – building on the success of 2017, and planning more of the same.

“We had a great year last season, on and off the track the team were a delight to work with,” Louis said.

“Obviously I can’t tell you the team for 2018 right now, we will be announcing that as soon as possible. But from last season’s team, we won’t be ripping it up and starting again, I can assure you.

“It was a good mix this year. The points limit will mean we simply can’t keep the same seven that ended the year and that’s a shame, but that’s the way it is.”

It’s no surprise Louis and team manager Ritchie Hawkins are going down this route.

There is little doubt the Witches of 2017 contained a team spirit as high as has been seen at Foxhall for many seasons. The way the team came through adversity after adversity during an injury-plagued campaign, was a testament to that.

Two cup final defeats at the end of the season didn’t reflect the team’s achievements in an eventful year, with the KO Cup final loss to Peterborough, after skipper Danny King crashed out with the Witches set to take the trophy, especially galling.

Chris Louis and team manager Ritchie Hawkins, all smiles during a fine 2017. Chris Louis and team manager Ritchie Hawkins, all smiles during a fine 2017.

The Witches team of 2017... that never took to the track!

Louis has been on the Spanish island of Tenerife, with the rest of his fellow promoters gearing up for 2018, with fans’ thoughts on how to improve the sport ringing their ears.

“It’s been very much a case of listening to the fans,” Louis said.

“A fan bug bear is the tactical ride and it is a rule that fans even outside of the sport just couldn’t work out how a team could suddenly be given a double point advantage, so that is gone.

“It has been replaced by an old fashioned tactical substitution where you can replace a rider with one that is in better form or whatever and you can do that once between heats five and 14 excluding heat eight.

Witches promoter Chris Louis, won't be changing much to the 2018 side after a successful 2017 Witches promoter Chris Louis, won't be changing much to the 2018 side after a successful 2017

“The League Cup and KO Cup draws are regionalised so fans have a chance to go and support their team away from home. And with Lakeside moving into the Championship, that gives us another local team to race.

“I know some Ipswich fans wondered if we might move up into the Premiership, but I have never said we were thinking about it at the moment, so it wasn’t really ever on our radar. I want another strong year from us in the Championship.”

Premiership clubs are going to be racing on Mondays and Wednesdays primarily in 2018.

That alone would have caused Ipswich issues should they have thought about moving up, as Thursdays has been the regular race night at Foxhall for years.

Most clubs are staying in the same leagues they participated in during 2017. The one major movement is in Ipswich’s league where Lakeside have moved into the Championship. The Witches will ride in a three-team League Cup group with Peterborough and Lakeside, while they have drawn the winners of Peterborough or Lakeside in the second round of the KO Cup.

“It is always good to have more clubs rather than less and we have gained Lakeside as a local derby so that is fantastic,” Louis added.

“It will be one meeting at home and one away in the league as the League Cup returns in small groups as you look to qualify for the semis and the Knockout Cup continues.”

Witches promoter Chris Louis talks with Rory Schlein. Witches promoter Chris Louis talks with Rory Schlein.

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