Hans is gunning for Pirates
CHAMPIONS Poole Pirates come to Foxhall Stadium tonight expecting a backlash from new Ipswich Evening Star Witches golden boy Hans Andersen.The 23-year-old Dane has played a leading part in the transformation of the Witches from a bottom of the table side to one that can boast a 100 per cent record in its first four matches of the new season.
By Elvin King
CHAMPIONS Poole Pirates come to Foxhall Stadium tonight expecting a backlash from new Ipswich Evening Star Witches golden boy Hans Andersen.
The 23-year-old Dane has played a leading part in the transformation of the Witches from a bottom of the table side to one that can boast a 100 per cent record in its first four matches of the new season.
And Andersen cannot wait to get stuck into the opposition as Ipswich look to open their home Sky Bet Elite League season with a win.
The Poole asset said: “The Pirates wanted me back this year, but I turned them down. Ipswich was the track for me this time round and I have no regrets.”
Poole promoter Matt Ford will have noticed that Andersen has upped his average from 6.68 with the Dorset club in 2001 to 7.39 after two seasons on loan with Peterborough Panthers.
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And after Andersen has scored nine, 11, 14 and 11 points in his Ipswich meetings so far, Ford will fear the worst tonight.
No team has retained the top-flight speedway championship for more than a decade, but Poole look equipped to have a serious assault on the title again, being led by Witches' asset Tony Rickardsson and Foxhall track specialist Jason Lyons.
Bjarne Pedersen is an emerging talent, while Antonio Lindback is also tipped for a big future although he might need time to find the quickest route around Foxhall Stadium.
Andersen, one of three Ipswich riders in the 2004 Grand Prix series along with Scott Nicholls and Jesper B Jensen, has switched to Jawa engines this season.
He added: “Everything is going well. Ipswich is a very well organised club and the people involved are very professional.
“And what is also encouraging is that the riders are working together. We have already won at Peterborough and at Belle Vue and not many teams will do that.
“If we can see off Poole then we can consider ourselves in with an excellent chance of reaching the play-offs.”
And his fellow countryman Jensen was quick to confirm how much he is enjoying himself. He said: “We are all young and we are all up for a laugh.
“It is a serious business riding speedway and riding to win, but you want to enjoy yourself as well and this is what we are doing.
“It is taking me a little while to find the right set-ups, but I am getting there and we have to be happy with how the season has started.”
Former world champion Rickardsson is confident that Poole will have a big say in the title battle once again. The Swede said: “Normally when you win the league in England you end up at the bottom in the next season, but I don't think we will be at the bottom.
“It's going to be tough but I think we should be pushing for a top four spot.”
Poole beat Arena-Essex at home last night and without any major injury worries, the Pirates, like Ipswich, should be at full strength.
After problems with the new Foxhall Stadium air fence in last week's Knock-Out Cup win over Eastbourne, the traditional wooden fence will be used tonight.
It is hoped that repairs will be made in time for the air barrier to be back in operation for Good Friday afternoon's home clash with Coventry.
Next Monday, Ipswich visit Oxford in a televised fixture and next Thursday they ride at Coventry.