Louis: We don't need air fence

IPSWICH Evening Star Witches promoter John Louis is not sitting on the fence when it comes to rider safety.He sees no reason why the Foxhall Stadium shale circuit should have an air fence fitted for all home Sky Sports Elite League matches in 2004.

IPSWICH Evening Star Witches promoter John Louis is not sitting on the fence when it comes to rider safety.

He sees no reason why the Foxhall Stadium shale circuit should have an air fence fitted for all home Sky Sports Elite League matches in 2004.

"This is what we are being asked to do, but I don't think there is any need as our safety record at Foxhall is first class," Louis said today.

Every club in the ten-strong Elite League is to have their tracks inspected and Ipswich will know more after that. As things stand it will be compulsory to have an air fence for all matches in the top flight next season.

Air fences have proved a big success in the Grand Prix series and there is no doubt that on most tracks they considerably reduce the chances of a rider getting seriously hurt.

The Foxhall fence is not static. It is put up before every meeting and is situated between the speedway and outside stock car track and collapses on impact.

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"I cannot remember any serious injuries at Ipswich for some while," added Louis. "The ones we have had have been down the straights.

"Scott Nicholls cracked a collar bone in 2002 when he went into the third bend fence, and that is the last time I can recall a rider being taken to hospital by ambulance.

"Our record is good, and this is borne out by our lack of insurance claims. Naturally we want as few injuries as possible and rider safety is paramount. But I am not sure we can improve the situation at Foxhall."

There might also be a problem for spectators if an air fence is used at Foxhall, with supporters having to move further up the terraces to get a full view of the track.

"This is something we also have to look out for," added Louis, who said the cost of air fences around the country is scheduled to be paid for by the riders.

"Some have already indicated they are happy to do this," said Louis.

"The idea is that they ride challenge matches at the start of the season with their points money going towards the fence."

Louis confirmed that Ipswich are talking to Kim Jansson and Danny Bird about filling the reserve berths in 2004. Meanwhile, negotiations with skipper Scott Nicholls are on-going.

Leigh Lanham is believed to want to stay in the Premier League and if so he will be looking to double up. Ipswich can only take one on board so Bird might win out and Lanham may end up as a floater for Arena-Essex.

Wolverhampton asset Jesper P Jensen did not ride in England last season, but now he is in the Grand Prix series the 26-year-old Dane is looking to regain a place in an Elite League side.

Is so, Ipswich will be one of the clubs who are likely to show an interest in a grade three rider who could partner Nicholls and fellow Dane Hans Andersen in the Witches top three.

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