REVEALED! Ipswich Witches 2021. Here is the Foxhall team that will challenge for the Premiership
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
IPSWICH Witches team manager Ritchie Hawkins admits to being 'excited' at the prospect of success for the 2021 Witches side.
The Foxhall Heath club have today named six of the seven riders who will wear the Witch this summer - the seventh - from the 'Rising Star' programme, will be announced next week.
And, for Hawkins, it's an attractive Witches team.
"I think everyone is excited about racing again and for us to be able to keep most of the team together from the one that would have ridden last year, is really good news.
"It's been a big job for everyone to get teams together, with the Polish situation and lower points limit. But I think we have done well."
Witches fans will be especially overjoyed to see that Jason Crump has decided to return to England.
The 3x world champion was set to make his British comeback last season after eight years out of the sport. And while he made a few individual appearances in England in 2020, he never rode for the Witches with league racing aborted because of Covid. But he will race now.
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"Jason is as enthusiastic as anyone," Hawkins said.
"He did well in the few meetings he had in England last year and he's riding in Australia now, so having him back is great.
"With Danny King and Nicolai Klindt, I don't think there will be many stronger heat leader trios in the league - although I haven't seen all the sides as yet."
And the Witches welcome two new names to the fold - Australian Jordan Stewart and young Englishman, Anders Rowe.
"I've watched Jordan for a while, " admitted Hawkins. "Before he signed for Swindon, we had our eyes on him. Whenever I went to Redcar he always impressed, so I think he will be a really good asset for us, a good young Aussie rider.
"As for Anders, well I've known him - and his dad - who has been a mechanic for many good riders, a while.
"He's still only young and learning, but when me and Chris Louis sat down to look at finding a three-point rider and we saw his name, we went straight for him."
Cameron Heeps is back for another season at Foxhall, and Hawkins is looking for him to kick on again.
"Cam had a good 2019 and I still say he rides Foxhall better than any of our riders - and I mean any of them. He must make Foxhall a fortress for himself and improve on away tracks. He's a very key rider for us."
Ipswich are still to announce rider No.7, as all draft picks will be announced in one go next week.
MEET THE WITCHES 2021
Age: 45, born Bristol, England.
Witches fans will be overjoyed at the prospect of seeing 3x world champion Crump in Ipswich colours. Making a return to the sport after an eight-year absence last season, Crump did well in the few meetings he competed in and he has been racing in Australia during the English winter. On and off the track, Crump has a huge part to play for the Witches and he is sure to be a total crowd pleaser.
Age: 34, born Maidstone, England.
Captain King returns for his seventh consecutive year at Foxhall Stadium and was likely the first name on Chris Louis' team sheet when the Witches supremo was putting his 2021 side together. King is a Witch through and through, having made his debut for the team back in 2003 as a 16-year-old, before moving to, among others Coventry, Leicester and Birmingham. He was British Champion in 2016. He is doubling up with Poole in the Championship.
Age: 32, born Outrup, Denmark.
This will be the first time Klindt has ridden for the Witches and his impressive performances in 2019 on the Foxhall circuit for then club, Poole, meant he was a rider the Witches had their eye on. One of the few Witches who rode in 2020, Klindt based himself in Poland, where he rode well for First Division, Ostrow. He has just been re-called to the Danish squad for the Speedway of Nations, to be ridden later this summer.
Age: 25, born Perth, Australia.
Signing for the Witches for the ninth season in his 10-year spell in England, Heeps is often the barometer of the team and he has seen his form improve over the years. He enjoyed a fine 2019 and hopes will be high among the Foxhall management that Heeps can continue to improve. Will double up with Kent Kings in the Championship If he does up his average, 2021 could be a good one for the Suffolk side.
Age 22, born Mildura, Australia.
One of a host of upcoming Aussie youngsters, Stewart signed for Swindon Robins at the start of the defunct 2020 season and was hoping to again before Swindon pulled out of the Premiership. Ipswich have snapped him up and he could prove an astute signing. Stewart has been spending time this winter talking to Jason Crump in Australia. Has enjoyed some impressive performances Down Under as well, and doubles up with Redcar Bears in the Championship.
Age 18, born Weymouth, England
One of England's brightest prospects, Rowe was left without a club in England this year after both Swindon and Somerset decided not to race in 2021. However, he has been snapped up by the Witches and also the Redcar Bears in the Championship. This will be his first full year in the Premiership. Third in the British U19 final to winner Drew Kemp in 2020, Rowe was first spotted by Chris Harris as a 13-year-old. Harris going on to help the youngster in his early years.
NO. 7 RISING STAR.... To be named by all Premiership clubs at a later date