Brilliant Loram can't lift Witches

MARK Loram was in brilliant form but Ipswich Evening Star Witches still lost further ground in their attempt to reach the Elite League play-offs.They are now one point ahead of fifth-placed Poole after their resounding win last night - and the Pirates have three meetings in hand.

By Elvin King

MARK Loram was in brilliant form but Ipswich Evening Star Witches still lost further ground in their attempt to reach the Elite League play-offs.

They are now one point ahead of fifth-placed Poole after their resounding win last night - and the Pirates have three meetings in hand.

Loram had the entire Wimborne Road crowd on their feet when he went from third to first in a magnificent exhibition of full throttle speedway in an unforgettable race nine.

Loram was wearing the black and white helmet colour to signify he was riding for double points and his victory kept Ipswich in the hunt for the aggregate bonus point, if not an outright win.

However, having received little support from the rest of his team, Loram's efforts went to waste with the Pirates gaining all three points with a big victory margin.

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The Witches won 50-40 in the corresponding meeting at Foxhall Stadium and with Poole using the rider replacement facility for Grand Prix rider Antonio Lindback, who injured himself in Sweden on Tuesday, Ipswich had a chance of getting their play-off crusade back on course.

Rookie Matthew Wethers had to fill one of the Poole reserve berths which weakened them somewhat, but with so many riders off form the Witches were unable to capitalise.

Ipswich are running out of meetings in which to gain enough points to finish in the top four and this was the third consecutive match where they were unable to do enough to obtain the extra point.

The attendance was swelled by holidaymakers enjoying the sunshine on the south coast, but with Poole's rider replacement facility picking up eight points, Ipswich were unable to join in the holiday mood.

Former Witch Craig Boyce was in top form and he won heat one from the start with Jonas Davidsson showing what a prospect he could be by notching up a paid 12 points from the reserve berth and only losing out on a paid maximum when he hit the deck on the third bend of heat 11.

The Swede won heat two comfortably enough before Poole grabbed their first 5-1 with both home riders going past Robert Miskowiak - Greg Walesek on the second bend and Krzysztof Kasprzak on the last.

Loram won heat four at the second attempt and in heat five Piotr Protasiewicz was edged out by Kasprzak as the riders headed for the first bend.

The Witches had their first heat advantage in race six with a fine gate by Loram and with Daniel King doing well to re-pass Boyce and then hold him off, Ipswich collected a 4-2.

Two consecutive maximums, far too easily obtained, put the Pirates back in the driving seat before Loram's heroics in heat nine.

He missed the start, but went beyond Kasprzak on the second lap and then trailed Walesek for the rest of the race before a brilliant manoeuvre on the final turn saw him take the chequered flag and receive a great ovation from the Pirates' fans for a brilliant example of top flight speedway.

A 5-1 to the home team in race ten when an out-of-sorts Chris Louis again missed the start and Miskowiak was passed by Bjarne Pedersen and Boyce going down the back straight, put the Pirates back in charge although team manager Mike Smillie's success in picking tactical riders continued in heat 11.

Protasiewicz won in style at the second attempt after Davidsson had crashed when Ipswich were also in a 5-1 position.

Kim Jansson had an off night and although he gated in this race on two occasions, he was passed by Kasprzak on the fourth bend.

Smillie gambled by using Louis as a tactical substitute in heat 12 coming in for the disappointing Miskowiak and starting 15 metres adrift with his points counting double. However, the Ipswich skipper never made up any ground as the home pair scored a 5-1.

Loram continued his brilliant run when he brought more excitement by chasing the Poole pair for four laps before passing Walesek on the line for second place in heat 13.

Everything had been decided by now although Ipswich gained a draw in heat 14 and Protasiewicz in his haste to get something from the final race went through the tapes.

Loram chased Pedersen all the way, but on this occasion was unable to get past him.

IPSWICH Witches are back in action tonight when they entertain Reading Bulldogs at Foxhall Stadium (start 7.30pm).

The visitors are the only team to have beaten the Witches at home this season and the Suffolk side will be out for revenge.

In the corresponding B fixture at Smallmead, Ipswich lost 57-38, so they will have their work cut out to collect the aggregate bonus point.

However, they will have high hopes of maintaining their recent unbeaten home run.

Ipswich will track the same side that rode at Poole last night while Reading will use the rider replacement facility for the injured Janusz Kolodziej.

They bring in their number eight Mark Lemon to ride at number six.

Ipswich: P Protasiewicz, K Jansson, R Miskowiak, C Louis, M Loram, D King, T Kroner.

Reading: G Hancock, Rider Replacement, T McGowan, C Gjedde, M Zagar, M Lemon, Z Simota.

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