Chris blasts critics

IPSWICH Evening Star Witches rider manager Chris Louis today hit back at claims that the club had gone for a cheap option in signing Pole Piotr Protasiewicz to replace Scott Nicholls.

IPSWICH Evening Star Witches rider manager Chris Louis today hit back at claims that the club had gone for a cheap option in signing Pole Piotr Protasiewicz to replace Scott Nicholls.

Louis, who has just got to complete the paperwork to secure Piotr as the fifth rider in the Witches 2005 team, insisted: “We have not gone for a cheap option, but for one of the few top options available to us.

“There was no available rider who can be classed as a direct replacement for Scott, and Piotr should not be looked at in that way.”

American Billy Hamill, who won the 1996 world championship, has made it known that he wants to ride in the Sky Bet Elite League again after failing to find a club in 2004.

And he admitted that riding at Foxhall Stadium for Ipswich would have suited him down to the ground.

But Louis revealed that the 34-year-old does not figure in Witches' plans.

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Louis said: “Billy has charisma and he is an entertainer so he would have had his plus points.

“But the bottom line is that he is not looking to progress. He has reached his limits, and may now consider that he has done his bit.

“Piotr is still ambitious and at the age of 29 wants to get back into the Grand Prix series. He will be pushing hard for success.”

And Louis sees no reason why Protasiewicz should not score as freely as Nicholls, who is signing for new club Coventry this Saturday with his transfer fee set to be agreed at around £35,000.

The Witches chief said: “The 2003 season is generally agreed to have been tougher than 2004, and Piotr's average for Peterborough last year is similar to Scott's this year.

“One or two eyebrows might have been raised when Piotr's signing was announced and we expected that. But I am sure he will surprise a lot of people, although he might take a little while to find the quickest way around Foxhall.”

Louis thinks it is grossly unfair that the Pole comes into the Ipswich side with his average untouched by a decision to dock bonus points off the averages of riders who rode in the Elite League in 2004.

He said: “We are working on getting that changed, and if we are successful then our side will pick itself with Jesper B Jensen and Daniel King completing the line up.”

Jensen is the one who will miss out if Protasiewicz does not have his current British average reduced.

It is only a matter of time before Louis and King sign their contracts.

n JOHN Berry has returned to Australia having been delighted to see so many people at his three book-signing sessions in Ipswich.

The former Witches promoter, whose book 'Confessions Of A Speedway Promoter' is proving a big hit, said: “It was great to meet up with so many speedway people.

“I didn't realise I had so many friends. It was a terrific few days and I am so glad I came over.”

Berry lives in Perth, Western Australia and he plans to come back to Ipswich at the start of the 2005 speedway season.

He met up with John Louis, Jeremy Doncaster and Tony Davey at Orwell Motor Cycles on Saturday, and then moved on to the Ipswich Tourist Information Office and WH Smiths.

He added: “There were so many old faces to say hello to at Orwell Motor Cycles, and there were queues all the while I was at the other two venues as well

“Sales are way above what I expected, and after a lot of thought my decision to get everything off my chest has proved to be a successful one all round.”

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