Louis master-class as Witches win

CHRIS Louis produced a master-class in speedway action as Ipswich Evening Star Witches won an absolute thriller of a meeting at Foxhall Stadium last night.

By Mike Bacon

CHRIS Louis produced a master-class in speedway action as Ipswich Evening Star Witches won an absolute thriller of a meeting at Foxhall Stadium last night.

The brilliant Louis was in magnificent form with a 15-point maximum to inspire his side to a 48-42 knock-out cup, quarter-final, first leg victory against Coventry Bees in a clash that had absolutely everything.

Passing galore, close finishes and a horror crash that could have overshadowed the meeting; there could not surely have been one fan in the stadium, Coventry nor Ipswich, who went home nothing short of breathless after this one.

The crash, involving Evening Star Witches teenager Danny King was as bad a looking one as has been seen at Foxhall for many seasons. The fact he has walked away from it with no more than bruising is a blessing, because at the time many feared the worst.

With the Evening Star Witches and the Bees level at 18-18, King, who had already won his first ride, mounted an audacious attempt to dive under Coventry's Australian Rory Schlein going into turn one on lap two in heat seven.

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He misjudged it, slammed into Schlein and then took off, full throttle, towards the air fence. With a sickening thud King just managed to throw his bike into the fence, but he catapulted over it onto the stock car track. The hush that went round the stadium said it all.

For 15 minutes the paramedics worked tirelessly on the stricken King but incredibly, after a long stay in the ambulance, he was able to walk away, get showered and changed and was already talking about racing next week, with nothing more than bruising.

Before then the crowd had been on their feet to hail Louis as he, in heat five produced his, and possibly the, race of the season so far.

Former Witches favourite Scott Nicholls had already won heat one and was on his way to victory in heat five. But Louis stalked and stalked the Grand Prix star, before rounding him in style on turn two to blast past him down the back straight to the delight of the home faithful.

It was the first real notable action of the meeting, but after that the action came thick and fast.

Heat six saw Kim Jansson and the exciting Chris Harris swap places in a great struggle with the visiting man gaining second place and although King's crash quietened proceedings for a while, it didn't last long.

Without King the Witches were suddenly up against it, but Jan Jaros showed once again he doesn't lack bottle and he re-passed Olly Allen after the Bees' man had passed him in heat eight.

Coventry had started the meeting strongly, but the Evening Star Witches had fought back well and, although minus King, they were two points up at 25-23.

That was stretched to six points in heat nine, but again what a race.

Robert Miskowiak and Louis made the start and for all the world seemed destined for a 5-1 maximum. But Harris, who spent two laps trying to pass partner Martin Smolinski at the back, eventually got through and then set about chasing the Witches duo. And he almost achieved an incredible victory when, on the final lap he caught Louis, only for the the Witches captain to fight back as the three riders went over the line side by side.

The Witches pair got the nod, but Coventry were far from beaten.

Although Mark Loram, who was another outstanding Witches rider on the night, beat Nicholls in heat 11, Coventry levelled the scores up at 36-36 in heat 12 after Miskowiak missed the start.

Loram produced a super pass on Nicholls in heat 13 and then the Witches got lucky in the penultimate heat 14 as Billy Janniro shed a chain while in third to gift the Witches a two-point lead going into the final race.

Yet the best was reserved till last.

Nicholls was away from the start in heat 15 with Louis and Loram all over him like a rash. Louis kept to the inside and forced his way past Nicholls going into turn three on the second lap. The crowd were going mad by now as Loram flew up the inside of Nicholls one lap later to give the Evening Star Witches a match-winning 5-1 maximum and a six-point first leg lead.

From an entertainment value it was ten out of ten and both sides deserve huge credit.

This was speedway at its very best and if the second leg at Brandon is half as good, we are all in for another treat.

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