Hampel chases Gollob's crown

JAREK Hampel is going to take over from Tomasz Gollob as the King of Polish rider.The 20-year-old crown prince, who takes over the coveted Chris Louis number one race jacket in the Ipswich Evening Star Witches side this year, is the best prospect in the speedway-mad eastern European country.

By Elvin King

JAREK Hampel is going to take over from Tomasz Gollob as the King of Polish rider.

The 20-year-old crown prince, who takes over the coveted Chris Louis number one race jacket in the Ipswich Evening Star Witches side this year, is the best prospect in the speedway-mad eastern European country.

So says one of the most respected coaches in the world – Marek Cieslak, who worked with Hampel three years ago and is to link up with him again.

Hampel has signed to ride for Atlas Wroclaw in the Polish League and club coach Cieslak says: "Jarek is a pearl in Polish speedway. He is a young rider but already an experienced rider. He will become our best."

Gollob, now 31, has struggled to make a big impact in the Grand Prix series over the last few years. He is still a strong favourite among the legions of Polish fans who follow the GP circus around Europe, but Hampel is expected to take over the top mantle from him soon.

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Gollob rode for Ipswich for three years from 1998, when he was an important member of the Dream Team - the legendary treble-winning side.

Hampel made his Ipswich debut late in 2000 and rode for the whole of the 2001 campaign. He decided to sit out last year to concentrate on the Polish and Swedish Leagues, but was persuaded to come back when the extent of Louis' April injuries were known.

Hampel, who has just moved to a new house in Poland, will link up with Ipswich team mates Scott Nicholls and Chris Slabon in the Wroclaw side.

He has signed a two-year deal with Wroclaw after riding for Polonia Pila for the last few years. Polonia appear to be in big trouble financially and Hampel is not the only rider to leave.

"I had many offers and I needed time to choose," said Hampel, who underwent a nose operation to improve his breathing before Christmas.

"I picked Atlas because they are a very professional club and I know they will help me in my career."

Last week Hampel prepared for new season with his Atlas team mates in Cetniewo. "We spent ten days in Cetniewo and worked hard all the time," he said.

Atlas promoter Andrzej Rusko, a friend of Witches promoter John Louis and wife Magda, is pleased with his capture. He said: "Jarek is very good young rider. Three years ago he worked with our coach and they know each other very well. It is a collaboration that will bring rewards to both Jarek and our club."

Hampel, who will also ride for Kaparna in Sweden, has set his individual targets for 2003. "I plan to reach the World Under-21 final, and gain a place in the Grand Prix series for 2004".

Atlas Wroclaw have a host of talented riders on their books, including Krzysztof Cegielski, Tomek Jedrzejak, Robert Dados, Artur Boginczuk, Greg Hancock, Nicholls and Slabon, but Hampel has been promised a permanent starting position.