Chris just wants to have fun
SPEEDWAY: Ipswich Witches speedway skipper Chris Louis looked ahead to the coming season and said: "I am going to enjoy myself more." The 32-year-old also admitted that he was not fully fit when he made his return to the saddle last September after being involved in a horrendous crash in Poland on June 24.
By Elvin King
IPSWICH Witches speedway skipper Chris Louis looked ahead to the coming season and said: "I am going to enjoy myself more."
The 32-year-old also admitted that he was not fully fit when he made his return to the saddle last September after being involved in a horrendous crash in Poland on June 24.
Already signed to lead the Witches for a 14th consecutive season in 2002, Louis is busy getting his machinery – and himself – in top-top shape with the first Ipswich match taking place in mid-March.
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Louis, who suffered severe head injuries and was in intensive care for several days after his crash, has lost his place in the lucrative Grand Prix series.
He had been a continuous member since the series began in 1995, having been third in the 1993 one-off world final in Pocking, German. Louis won the world under-21 crown in Lvov, Ukraine in 1990.
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"Without the Grand Prix meetings my schedule will be much lighter," he said today. "It gives me a chance to enjoy my speedway more, and this is what I intend to do.
"Qualifying through to a place in the 2003 GP is my individual aim, but I will not initially be riding for a Polish club.
"I have switched Swedish League clubs to Ornarna but these meetings take place on Tuesday nights from May until August and are not too time-consuming."
Louis failed to score a single point when he made his return from injury against Oxford and reached double figures just twice in his remaining matches in 2001.
"I came back when I was far from right," added Louis. "I was fit enough in myself but not race fit and not competitive enough. It will be different after the close season when I will start on level terms with everybody else."
Despite their current difficulty in finding two riders to complete the Witches 2002 side, Louis is optimistic about the coming campaign.
"If we can stay injury-free we can be among the trophies," he said. "We would have been ideally set up if Shaun Tacey had joined Leigh Lanham at reserve, but Shaun's 11th hour decision to stay with Arena-Essex has put us on the wrong foot.
"It is not the first time – and it won't be the last – where promoters have been devastated by losing a vital cog. But there are plenty more fish in the sea."
Two Ipswich assets will be riding for Eastbourne this year with Savalas Clouting joining Toni Svab at Arlington.
Svab, who still lives in Suffolk, rode for the Eagles towards the end of last season while Clouting's experience and low three-point average makes him an attractive proposition.
Clouting rides Arlington as well as anywhere. Eastbourne's decision to use Pole Krzystof Cegielski as their GP rider means that 2000 world champion Mark Loram could sit out the 2002 Elite League campaign.
He dithered over terms at Belle Vue – with Jason Crump jumping in – and must take much of the blame if he does miss out.
It will be a shambles, however, if Stowmarket-based Loram, who rode for Peterborough last year but cannot stay because Ryan Sullivan is their GP man, is cast adrift.
It could lead to a huge debate if Loram is not saved by what at the moment looks like an improbable last minute deal, with every Elite League already having their quota of GP riders.
The Eastbourne team will be Joe Screen, David Norris, Dean Barker, Stefan Andersson, Cegielski, Clouting and Svab and co-promoter Jon Cook said: "This side has been assembled with the aim of getting into the top five play-offs and then the grand final."