Louis in fitness battle

IPSWICH Evening Star Witches skipper Chris Louis expects to ride in tonight's Sky Bet Elite League clash with champions Poole at Foxhall Stadium.The Ipswich star pulled up in his second ride at Peterborough last night after leading at one stage.

IPSWICH Evening Star Witches skipper Chris Louis expects to ride in tonight's Sky Bet Elite League clash with champions Poole at Foxhall Stadium.

The Ipswich star pulled up in his second ride at Peterborough last night after leading at one stage. He quickly dressed and set off for home.

But the 35-year-old said today as he worked on his machinery: “I expect to make it tonight. I shall be having physio treatment and make a final decision after that.”

It was a worrying development for the Suffolk side who were beaten by ten points by the Panthers in an Air Tek Challenge meeting ridden on a heavy and poor track.

Witches team manager Mike Smillie said: “Chris felt a painful twinge in his neck during his ride in heat seven. When he came back into the pits he was unable to turn his head and could not look around without moving his whole body.

“Track conditions were a telling factor, with riders of the calibre of Karlsson, Ermolenko, Andersen and Protasiewicz all struggling at times to even turn the bike.”

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Consequently, the meeting never rose to any great heights on a track that was heavily cut up and did little to serve up much good racing.

With riders giving their services for nothing it was understandable that none of them took too many risks and although Ipswich lost a meeting they were never ahead in, there were some positives.

Reserve Robert Miskowiak again showed what potential he possesses with a stirring performance and a paid 13 points from his six rides, while Hans Andersen and Pepe Protasiewicz also showed their liking for the big Peterborough bowl as they recorded five heat wins between them.

Daniel King summed up the rider's feelings: “It was very difficult tonight and a Catch 22 for most of us. Do we ride hard and perhaps get injured, or take it easy? We just had to be sensible.”

The Witches started by conceding a maximum 5-1 in the opening race with Karol Baran's hopes of an early look at a track he had never ridden on dashed when he failed to beat the two-minute time allowance. Miskowiak replaced him as Andersen tailed off at the back.

Miskowiak split the Panthers' duo in the reserves' race, but Ipswich were being taken apart early on as the home side stretched their lead to ten points after heat three.

Protasiewicz and Miskowiak at last got Ipswich going with a comfortable 5-1 maximum of their own and Baran was excluded in heat five after falling when in third place on lap two.

Andersen shot from the outside to win comfortably, but Peterborough were back in the ascendancy with another maximum in the next.

Gating was proving vital on the tricky surface although Louis led from the start in heat seven, but was past by Sam Ermolenko on lap two before pulling up with his neck injury.

Miskowiak continued his fine form with a win in heat eight and when tactical rider Protasiewicz won heat nine, with his points counting double, the Witches only trailed by seven.

But the home side hit straight back with their fourth maximum before another tactical ride for the Witches, this time by Andersen, reeled the home side in by three points at 41-31.

Kim Jansson got between the Panthers' pairing in the next and Andersen and Protasiewicz rocketed from the start in heat 13 to bring Ipswich closer and still in with a chance of snatching an unlikely draw.

That hope increased in the penultimate heat as King and Miskowiak gated to the front, but in the race of the night Ales Dryml swooped past King and then beyond Miskowiak on the run-in to the line to seal the match for the home side.

Former Witch Joonas Kylmakorpi completed an excellent night for him with a win in the final race that Ipswich only had one rider in.

The Witches' five-match winning streak came to an end, but little could be judged on a night where most of the riders were happy just to get around safely.

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