Louis may be out of Witches' line-up

SPEEDWAY: Ipswich Evening Star Witches speedway fans should not be too shocked if long-time skipper Chris Louis does not make the starting line-up for 2003.

By Elvin King


IPSWICH Evening Star Witches speedway fans should not be too shocked if long-time skipper Chris Louis does not make the starting line-up for 2003.

The 33-year-old has been an ever-present in Ipswich sides since 1989, although last season was ended prematurely when he damaged his back riding in Sweden in April.

The previous year, former world number three Louis sustained severe head injuries riding in Poland and was out of action for a couple of months.

He says that he wants to ride again after coming through a 'fitness test' at Foxhall Stadium at the end of last season.

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But it is by no means certain that he will start the 2003 campaign with the home-town club he has served so well.

Whether Louis is able to match his current optimism and recover full race fitness remains to be seen.

And this – along with his higher than expected average – reduces his chances of riding for Ipswich next year.

The cumulative averages for 2003 take into account 2001 and 2002 and they put Louis at 7.63. This means his promoter father John may have to look elsewhere to complete his side.

An appeal has gone in to see if Louis junior's average can be changed, as at one time Ipswich were considering having Louis as a trump card in a second string berth with an average of 6.10.

A former Great Britain captain and two-time British champion, Louis is suffering more than most with the controversial rules that caused Ipswich director Magda Louis to last week slam British Speedway Promoters' Association chairman Chris van Straaten.

And she also warned Witches fans not to expect a successful 2003 campaign.

Clubs like van Straaten's current league champions Wolverhampton have gained significantly from the rules, which are being changed for 2004 when only averages for 2003 will be taken into effect on a cumulative basis.

With Scott Nicholls, Jarek Hampel, Paul Hurry, Tom P Madsen, and Danny Bird having agreed terms for their Elite League side – and Chris Slabon a likely starter as well – Ipswich have just one outstanding place to fill.

A fully fit Louis has been the first name pencilled into Ipswich side for the previous 14 years, but not this year.

With doubts still lingering about his fitness, and his higher than anticipated average, another Witches asset like Toni Svab may well be the answer to partner Slabon as a second string.

Whether Louis would then look to ride somewhere else remains to be seen. 

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