Kim's toast to absent friends

SWEDISH speedway starlet Kim Jansson will be raising a toast to absent friends when the Ipswich Evening Star Witches season begins next month.

By Elvin King

By ELVIN KING

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SWEDISH speedway starlet Kim Jansson will be raising a toast to absent friends when the Ipswich Evening Star Witches season begins next month.

He will look along the Foxhall Stadium pits at the position held for the last few seasons by young Pole Jarek Hampel.

It was Hampel who recommended 22-year-old Jansson to the Witches in 2002. And in the last 12 months their circumstances at Ipswich have reversed.

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Last season Hampel was number two behind skipper Scott Nicholls in the Ipswich side, while Jansson had to be satisfied with a place in the Witches British League Cup squad.

He did not even have a place in a Swedish League side. "It was so frustrating, I was hardly riding at all," said crowd pleaser Jansson.

Now Jansson is keenly anticipating a successful season year in the reserve berth of a competitive-looking Witches Elite League side. In contrast, Grand Prix rider Hampel will be concentrating on his Polish and Swedish commitments.

"I like Jarek and will miss him. He played a big part in getting me established in England ," added Jansson. "And I think the team will as well.

"But with Chris Louis' return and Hans Andersen and Jesper B Jensen in the team - along with Scott Nicholls - it is good news.

"I have been getting plenty of messages from people in England wishing me well that is nice.

"I get on well with Witches fans and appreciate their support. This is a very important year for me. I need to make good scores and stay in the Elite League scene where you can learn so much."

After biding his time last year, Jansson eventually got the call to join the team on a full time basis, and he did his reputation no harm with a string of consistent performances.

"By starting at the beginning of this season, I will hopefully benefit," said Jansson. "Every small step I make will be important.

"Last year I was visiting most tracks in England for the first time and it wasn't easy. And even my home track I didn't know that well.

"But now I will be visiting many tracks for the second time and I think it will be a bit easier for me with set-ups and such things."

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