Louis fired up for Cardiff challenge

CHRIS Louis aims to become the second top Ipswich sportsman to resurrect his career in a showpiece event at the Millennium Stadium.He rides in speedway's Fiat Vans British Grand Prix in Cardiff tonight hoping to make as big an impression as footballer Andy Marshall in last month's FA Cup final.

CHRIS Louis aims to become the second top Ipswich sportsman to resurrect his career in a showpiece event at the Millennium Stadium.

He rides in speedway's Fiat Vans British Grand Prix in Cardiff tonight hoping to make as big an impression as footballer Andy Marshall in last month's FA Cup final.

Goalkeeper Marshall capped a remarkable return from the wilderness by starring in Millwall's 3-0 defeat against Manchester United. Now Louis wants to do the same.

Marshall spent the autumn out in the cold with Ipswich Town, but his situation was transformed when he transferred to Millwall and swapped shopping with his wife on Saturday afternoons to playing in the FA Cup final.

He was named man of the match for the Londoners.

Ipswich Evening Star Witches rider/manager Louis takes his place in speedway's showpiece event after returning to the track this season after two years out through serious injury.

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And he goes into tonight's meeting refusing to rule out a permanent return to international speedway.

Louis, who will 35 next month, said today: “I have not completely ruled out a return to the international scene.

“When I came back I made it plain that I only intended to ride in England. And I did not enter the qualification process for next year's GP series.

“My aims and ambitions have moved on, and my priority now is to see Ipswich succeed. You should never say never and I would seriously consider any call to be part of the Team Great Britain World Cup squad.”

If Louis' appetite for the big time is rekindled in the wonderful Millennium Stadium arena - and he gets agreement from his family - the indications are that he might go down the GP path again.

His riding since his recovery from severe head and then back injuries has been encouraging and he has deserved his wild card call-up with Eastbourne's David Norris.

“This will be the biggest speedway meeting in the world this year and I plan to enjoy myself,” added Louis, a former world number three. “Britain should be proud with four exceptionally talented riders on show.

“Mark Loram is showing this year that he has fully recovered from injuries that have slowed him in the last couple of years or so, while Lee Richardson is improving all the while as a GP competitor.

“Scott Nicholls' season has so far been marred by injury, but the stage is set for a big night in Cardiff and Dave Norris is having the best season he has ever had.”

This leaves Louis as the fifth Britain on show. “There is no pressure on me as a wild card and I shall be riding to win,” he said.

Louis and Nicholls are joined in the GP line-up by fellow Witches Hans Andersen and Jesper B Jensen. Louis added: “It is great for Ipswich to have four riders in the field, and it should be a great meeting.”

Louis has ridden at Cardiff just once before - in 2001 - and he made full use of yesterday's practice sessions.

“I had four sessions and 12 minutes to find the best set-up,” he added. “I went to bed last night comfortable in the knowledge that I had spent the time well.”

Louis reckons that Witches asset Tony Rickardsson is still the man they all have to beat.

“The main chasing pack like Jason Crump, Leigh Adams and Jarek Hampel will not be able to take their foot off the pedal and have a bad meeting as Tony will keep scoring away.”

Sean Clements, from Clements Construction, has joined the Louis team and is in Cardiff for the big night. “Sean is as excited as I am,” said Louis. “This shows what a huge date Cardiff has become in the speedway calendar and I plan to enjoy every moment.”If Louis can achieve the same levels as Marshall at the Millennium Stadium, his recovery from that pain of two serious injuries will complete.

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