Louis: We must repay faith of fans

"WE owe it to our fans to improve our side," said Ipswich Evening Star Witches promoter John Louis today.Defeat against Belle Vue Aces at Foxhall Stadium tonight (start 7.

By Elvin King

"WE owe it to our fans to improve our side," said Ipswich Evening Star Witches promoter John Louis today.

Defeat against Belle Vue Aces at Foxhall Stadium tonight (start 7.30pm) in a Gemini Travel-sponsored Sky Sports Elite League meeting will make a worrying situation much worse.

Struggling Ipswich have won just one league match, but the visitors from Manchester are still searching for their first victory.

Nineteen Elite League meetings between them and just one win. Not a battle of the giants, more a battle of the minnows. Ipswich will be at full strength, while Belle Vue have parted company with American Josh Larsen.

"This is a vital fixture, perhaps one of the most important we have had for a long while," said Louis.

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"We are both at the wooden spoon end of the table and the result will be significant.

"Although Belle Vue are not winning they have riders who go well round Foxhall and they have a good record at our place over the last couple of years.

"We have spoken to our riders and they are up for a fight. My wife Magda spent hours on the telephone last week trying to bring in first Tomasz Gollob and then Greg Hancock to bolster our top end.

"Neither bid came off and we must now continue to work hard with the riders we have. At the same time we must keep an eye open to make sure we don't miss out on any suitable riders – of a lower calibre than Tomasz and Greg – who become available. We owe this to our public."

Supporters can enter free tonight if they bring along a programme from a Coventry home match that was postponed after just one heat last week. If they can't make it to Foxhall tonight, they can use the programme for free admission next Thursday against Eastbourne.

The poor form shown by his Ipswich side puzzles Louis. He said: "The reaction to the team we put together during the winter was positive and we looked ahead to a successful year.

"But most of our riders have failed to get into gear. Perhaps the enforced gap in fixtures will have given them a chance to get their machinery sorted out. We need to win this one."

Chris Louis has tuned two engines for Hurry and one for Madsen and both are looking for a subsequent improvement after kicking their heels for nearly a fortnight due to inclement weather and the loss of four fixtures.

Skipper Scott Nicholls' last two matches for Ipswich have been below his usual standard, but if he is back to his best tonight it will go a long way to confirming a home win.

His battles with Jason Crump, a Foxhall specialist, should be worth watching while Grand Prix rider Jason Lyons is another Australian who enjoys his visits to Suffolk.

Carl Stonehewer did Britain proud while a GP rider for two years and he is in a reserve berth for the Aces.

Belle Vue boss John Perrin is looking for a replacement for Larsen, who is now back in the United States.

"There is no truth in speculation that we owe Josh money," said Perrin. "Larsen has had everything he is entitled to. He decided to go home. I've heard so much rubbish about this from people who are nothing more than anoraks."

Tonight's line-ups

Ipswich: J Hampel, C Slabon, P Hurry,

D Nermark, S Nicholls, D Bird, TP Madsen.

Belle Vue: J Crump, rider replacement, S Johnston, A Dryml, J Lyons, C Manchester,

C Stonehewer.