Loram set to quit GP circuit
MARK Loram will retire from international speedway if he does not get a nominated pick for next year's Grand Prix series.The Stowmarket-based former world champion - now riding for Arena-Essex - faces Ipswich Witches in tonight's Sky Bet Elite League Knock-Out Cup semi-final first leg.
By Elvin King
MARK Loram will retire from international speedway if he does not get a nominated pick for next year's Grand Prix series.
The Stowmarket-based former world champion - now riding for Arena-Essex - faces Ipswich Witches in tonight's Sky Bet Elite League Knock-Out Cup semi-final first leg.
And he admitted: “I shall not bother to try and qualify for the 2006 Grand Prix series if I do not get a place in next year's event.
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“Age will be against me. I am keeping my fingers crossed for a wild card nomination as I fancy riding in the new 16-rider format. More of the meetings will be run on permanent tracks, and this also makes it appealing.
“Realistically, Lee Richardson and Scott Nicholls are likely to figure ahead of me when it comes to deciding who gets the nominated British places.”
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Loram, who will be 34 in January and won the world title in 2000, finished 17th in this year's Grand Prix standings, 38 points behind 11th-placed Richardson and 28 points behind 12th-placed Nicholls.
“It is my own fault and this year I have no one to blame but myself,” added Loram. “I did not do well and must now hope for a wild card.
“I am proud of my world title, and if this year was my swansong I can look back and say that I did it.”
Ipswich return to the track after their epic league play-off semi-final meeting at Wolverhampton on September 27 when they held the midlands side to a 45-45 draw, but lost out in a run-off between Mikael Max and Hans Andersen.
“It was a great advert for speedway and Ipswich will rightly feel hard done by,” said Loram. “They should either have done what they do in rugby union cup competitions and put the away side through in the case of a draw - or gone to a replay at Foxhall Stadium.
“I suppose time and TV prevented the second option, but Ipswich would have given Poole a much harder test in the final than Wolves.
“They will start favourites to go through to the KO Cup final ahead of us and it will be tough for us to beat the Witches on aggregate, but stranger things have happened and we will be going all out as usual.
“We are a better side now than we were a couple of months ago.”
The Hammers will use the rider replacement facility to cover for Roman Povazhny, who is still in a Russian hospital after a crash last month.
Loram rode for the Witches in 1989 and Arena-Essex have two other ex-Ipswich riders in skipper Leigh Lanham and Paul Hurry.
Lanham is an Ipswich asset and has a testimonial meeting at Purfleet on Friday, October 15, while Hurry had a miserable time while at Foxhall last year with a succession of injuries.
Hammers team manager Ronnie Russell said: “This is our biggest match of the year and I am sure it will be very close. We are all up for it.”
Ipswich will be at full strength, with Danny Bird returning to the side tonight and in tomorrow's second leg at Foxhall Stadium after being badly missed at Wolverhampton.
Scott Nicholls will lead the side with speculation growing about his future as his chief sponsor, Alan Ham, is one of the people said to be interested in taking over from Belle Vue promoter John Perrin next season.
World champion Jason Crump is expected to be on his way from the Manchester-based track and Nicholls would make an ideal replacement.
But Witches' fans should not be too concerned as Ham has gone on record denying his interest in running Belle Vue and is considered an outsider.
The winners of this tie will meet either Poole or Swindon in a two-legged final that is set to take place in a fortnight's time. Poole and Swindon also ride their semi-final tonight and tomorrow.
Arena-Essex: M Loram (9.79 ave), D Barker (5.67), P Hurry (5.23), J Larsen (5.31), Rider replacement for R Povazhny (5.75), L Lanham (5.21), G Walasek (5.10). Team manager: Ronnie Russell.
Ipswich Witches: H Andersen (7.92), D Bird (5.77), J Jensen (6.50), C Louis (7.64), S Nicholls (9.02), D King (3.00), K Jansson (4.62). Team manager: Mike Smillie.