Louis still a fan despite another defeat

EVENING Star Witches skipper Chris Louis remains a fan of the controversial tactical rider rule despite it working against his side in dramatic fashion last night.

By Elvin King

EVENING Star Witches skipper Chris Louis remains a fan of the controversial tactical rider rule despite it working against his side in dramatic fashion last night.

The injured Louis, who is still hoping to be back in action on Thursday after suffering a broken collar bone, was an active contributor in the Wolverhampton pits on a night when the visitors were never behind until the last race.

An 8-1 to Wolves in heat 13 turned the match as Ipswich went from ten points ahead to losing the meeting in three races.

Louis said: “It was a much better show after our recent disappointments and the whole team deserves credit.

“Despite what happened to us in this meeting, I am a firm fan of the tactical rider rule. It keeps meetings alive, and sometimes you win and sometimes you lose through the regulation.

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“You cannot argue with the way the Wolverhampton top men went about their task, but overall we were unlucky and our efforts deserved three points.”

Ipswich roared back to form only to suffer the heartbreak of a last heat defeat in their penultimate away Elite League meeting.

With all their riders scoring well, Ipswich did secure their first aggregate bonus point for some considerable time.

But just when it seemed certain they would claim their third away victory of the season, they were pegged back by a home team that was well served by their top-three riders.

Peter Karlsson and American Billy Hamill both gained maximums and when the former combined with fellow Swede Fredrik Lindgren in heat 13 while wearing the back and white helmet colour, Wolves were right back in the meeting.

Hamill won heat 14 to keep his side within three points of the Witches and the almost inevitable happened in the final heat when Karlsson and Hamill combined to hold off Mark Loram, who did all he could to salvage something for his team.

Home fans went home delirious at the stunning comeback of their heroes, while the Ipswich side of the pits were stunned at having victory taken from them at the last gasp.

With a threat of rain the meeting was hurried through, and when it started to drizzle at the start of heat ten, things began to look ominous.

But it soon passed with Ipswich benefiting from a weak pair of Wolverhampton reserves with Ben Wilson (Sheffield) and Mathieu Tresarrieu (Redcar) filling the bottom places for the home team.

Ipswich did not suffer a last place until Daniel King failed to score in heat nine, and perhaps the significant race was the following one when King was scheduled to take the rider replacement spot for the missing Louis.

He was timed out, which meant Tobi Kroner coming in and the German, who otherwise had a fine evening, was passed by Christian Hefenbrock on the third lap - the home rider's only point of the night.

A drawn heat in that race and Ipswich would have surely hung on to the victory, although some cynics would suggest that they would have been better off scoring a 4-2 in heat 12 rather than the 5-1 that Robert Miskowiak and King earned, thanks to a determined first two bends.

The rider replacement facility for Louis totalled a paid six points.

There was a renewed sharpness about the Ipswich team and their gating was much quicker than of late, although Pepe Protasiewicz was again a disappointment, retiring in his final race.

The Pole did, however, go home paid for seven points, although his critics will say that a rider of his stature should have done better.

The top Wolves riders were a handful, however, with Loram winning just one heat all night, and Ipswich capitalised all the way through on the frailty of the Wolves' second strings and reserves.

In the end it was the tactical rider regulation that played a big part and although their journey home was filled with frustration, they did much, much better than on their previous visit to Wolves when they were thrashed 56-35.

Only Karlsson and Hamill won races from gate four and Loram found this too difficult to handle in heat 13, when a second place would surely have won the meeting for the Witches.

And when Wolves won the toss in the last heat, they not surprisingly chose gates one and three, leaving Loram on the outside once more.

He missed the start, but chased Karlsson for all he was worth and looked as though he would have gone past on the run-in to the line for second place, if the Swede had not blocked the gap.

Loram had to shut off to save himself running into the fence.

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