Loram regrets leaving Witches

MARK Loram breezed into Foxhall Stadium today and immediately made his presence felt.The 2000 world speedway champion - back in the Ipswich side after an absence of 17 years - had good news for his new team mates, and Evening Star Witches fans.

By Elvin King

MARK Loram breezed into Foxhall Stadium today and immediately made his presence felt.

The 2000 world speedway champion - back in the Ipswich side after an absence of 17 years - had good news for his new team mates, and Evening Star Witches fans.

And he also revealed that he regrets going away.

“I want to become the out-and-out number one,” said the 35-year-old. “Coming back to Ipswich has given me a new lease of life.

“With respect to Arena-Essex, who are run by good people, I have perhaps been treading water.

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“I needed to be with a 'local' club, one where I have extra pressure and where it matters to do well.

“And I feel that the vibes are right for me to lift my average to over eight points.”

Ipswich are the only side going into the Elite League season without a recognised number one. Unlike the other ten clubs, not one of their riders has an average over 8.00.

“I plan to put that right,” said Loram, when meeting up with his new team mates officially for the first time at today's Witches Foxhall Press Day.

Loram brings an average of 7.75 with him from his two years at Arena-Essex, while Ipswich skipper Chris Louis starts the campaign on 7.68 and Piotr Protasiewicz on 7.30.

The prospect of Loram and Louis riding together again after such a long absence has whetted the appetite of Witches fans. And Loram is just as excited.

He said: “I cannot wait. We have enjoyed plenty of battles as rivals over the years, and it will be great to be back on the same side.

“Heats 13 and 15 - when we are likely to be partnered - are potentially match-winning races and we know the importance of helping each other on the track.

“We have been pals since we were schoolboys, and I am sure we will have fun - and be successful.”

Loram has lived near Stowmarket for the last decade, and is pleased with the reaction he has had since signing for Ipswich.

“There appears to be a buzz around the area speedway-wise,” added Loram, who explained why he regrets departing Foxhall after the 1989 season.

He rode one year for Hackney before joining Ipswich. Since leaving the Witches he had a nomadic time riding for eight top-flight clubs before making a welcome return this year.

“I always felt it was a shame that Ipswich decided to stay in the National League in 1990 when I was looking to further my career and move up.

“I have been away too long. There are reasons, but I don't want to go public on them.

“My time at Ipswich was one of my happiest, and I have blended with Ipswich fans as well as anywhere. It is great to be back.

“John and Chris Louis have been excellent this winter, and I plan to repay them on the track.

“I have a feeling that Arena-Essex fans will see the best of promoter Ronnie Russell this year, but I could not gamble on another season at Purfleet.”

Ipswich's riders have new suits this season that include a bright yellow top, and along with his long-term pal Louis, Loram was today meeting up with fellow Ipswich 2006 team members Protasiewicz, Robert Miskowiak, Kim Jansson, Daniel King, Jan Jaros and doubling-up rider Carl Wilkinson.

MARK Loram began his warm up to the new campaign by finishing in joint fifth in the Peter Craven Memorial meeting at Belle Vue on Monday. Loram began with a win in heat one and then posted a last, second and third before ending with another win for nine points.

Belle Vue number one Jason Crump won the meeting after a run-off with Bjarne Pedersen, both riders finishing on 14 points. Fellow Aces Joe Screen and Simon Stead were third and fourth.

See tonight's Evening Star for a full-colour poster of the 2006 Witches' line-up.

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