British Cup waiting game for Witches

Ipswich Witches 52 Arena Essex Hammers 38IPSWICH Evening Star Witches will have to play the waiting game to see if they qualify for the later stages of the British League Cup.

Ipswich Witches 52 Arena Essex Hammers 38

IPSWICH Evening Star Witches will have to play the waiting game to see if they qualify for the later stages of the British League Cup.

That is despite a healthy victory at Foxhall Stadium last night over local rivals Arena Essex from the Premier League.

Three 5-1 maximums in the final three races saw the home side narrowly miss out on the aggregate bonus point, although even if they had achieved this then their progression would not have been guaranteed.

Led by Jarek Hampel and Paul Hurry, who both dropped just one point to an opponent, the Witches had too much strength in depth for the Hammers, although the visitors refused to give in until the latter stages.

Former Witch Joonas Kylmakorpi proved to be a thorn in the side early on and looked the quickest rider on view in his first four heats.

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However, as so often happens when an engine is at its quickest, it is at its most vulnerable and it started to seize during his fifth ride and from that moment he looked half the rider.

Leigh Lanham, an Ipswich asset on loan to Arena, but also doubling up in the reserve berth for the Witches this year, provided solid back-up for Kylmakorpi, despite struggling to get out of the tapes all night.

The Witches enjoyed the lead from heat two onwards, although every time they looked like opening up a lead the Hammers immediately hit back.

A 5-1 for Kylmakorpi and Lanham in heat 12 brought the visitors to within two points and gave them a real chance of ending the Witches hopes of extending their season.

It was the Arena pair who made the better start. Freddie Eriksson went up the inside of Kylmakorpi going up into the third bend but the Fynn had necessary speed to see off his rival.

With Kylmakorpi out again in heat 13 it looked a little ominous but the home side need not have worried.

Hampel got the better of Kylmakorpi going into the first corner and veteran Kelvin Tatum tucked inside his partner as they exited the second bend.

As all four riders headed down the back straight, Hurry blasted down the outside of Tatum and then raced up the inside of Kylmakorpi going into the third turn, taking his opponent wide coming out of the fourth bend and racing off to join Hampel for a 5-1 at the front.

The two Daniels then clinched the points for the Witches in the penultimate heat.

Young Daniel King came close to being taken into the fence by Lee Herne on the second lap and then had to see of the challenge of Henning Bager, who eventually crashed out on the last bend.

With points now sealed for the Witches, Hampel and Hurry made light work of defeating Lanham and Kylmakorpi to finish the meeting in style for the home side.

Hampel had got the Witches under way with a good win in the opening heat before King passed Herne on the outside of turn three in the next as Ipswich got their noses in front.

The Witches' Swedish pairing of Eriksson and Daniel Nermark scored a maximum win over Lanham to take the home side six points up.

There was no stopping Kylmakorpi in the fourth as the Hammers pulled a couple back, but then Nermark and Eriksson carried on where they had left off a couple of races earlier, scoring another maximum to take the Witches eight points to the good.

Heat six saw Arena pull a couple back again, with Kylmakorpi winning from Hampel and James Clement picking up the off point after Ben Howe suffered a puncture.

The home side again extended their advantage of eight when Hurry beat Lanham in the seventh, with Daniel King looking lively in third place.

The Hammers immediately rang the changes in the first race before the interval, bringing in Lanham as a tactical substitute and he raced away with Bager to again close the gap.

Kylmakorpi marched on in the eighth, for his third win of the night and then Hampel only just made it to the tapes in time before the start of heat ten.

When they rose he shot from the inside into pole position and was briefly joined by Daniel King who done well to ride round his brother into second spot for the first lap. Lanham then went round Daniel King after a lap, to split the Witches pair.

Hurry then won the 11th to keep the Witches six up but this allowed Arena to bring in their tactical substitute and close the gap to two.

Ipswich have now finished their British League cup matches, where they enjoyed a 100 per cent record at home and they will now have to wait until the other sides in their group finish their matches to know if they can progress further.

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