Magda: I fear for Danny

MAGDA Louis fears for the future of rising Ipswich Evening Star Witches star Daniel King.Louis is director of an Ipswich club that reached the Sky Bet Elite League play-off semi-final and rides in the semi-final of the Knock-Out Cup this week.

By Elvin King

MAGDA Louis fears for the future of rising Ipswich Evening Star Witches star Daniel King.

Louis is director of an Ipswich club that reached the Sky Bet Elite League play-off semi-final and rides in the semi-final of the Knock-Out Cup this week.

She said: “We should all be applauding Daniel for his efforts in helping us to our successes, but my biggest concern is to try and help him steer clear of bankruptcy.

“Unless British speedway authorities invest in the future of the sport in this country we will continue to lose out to the rest of the world.”

Mrs Louis has been involved with the Witches since coming over from her native Poland in 1991, and is now a popular summariser on Polish television during the screening of Grand Prix meetings.

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Married to Ipswich promoter John Louis, she continued: “We have a little diamond in 17-year-old Daniel King. But will he be able to go on and replace the likes of English riders Mark Loram and Chris Louis on the international scene?”

King, who gained Grand Prix experience helping Hans Andersen in the pits at the Norwegian GP last Saturday, was not offered a place in the Premier League this season despite being a British rider of great potential.

Ipswich took him on with open arms, and thank to John Louis and experienced riders in the Witches pits, his progress has been brought forward two or three years by riding in the Elite League.

But Mrs Louis warned: “Daniel will need substantial financial support if he is to represent England in a few years time in the Grand Prix series.

“There is no denying the fact that England desperately needs him, but how riders like him don't go bankrupt, I will never know.”

Ipswich Speedway purchased a complete engine for King at the start of the season, and he has had help from people who have supported him from the beginning.

“But so much more is needed and I do hope that there are some business people who will step in,” added Mrs Louis. “We want to see young Daniel make it to the top.

“He possesses a great talent and has the necessary dedication and appetite to make the top. But in speedway this is not enough. Equipment contributes to 50 per cent of the success.

“Despite his lack of finances Daniel has not given up on his dream of a big career despite practically no income apart from points money.

“Britain's stars are slowly fading away, and we desperately need new faces, new heroes, new winners. And England needs it more than any of the other leading nations apart from Australia, who also have no youngsters coming through.”

What adds to Mrs Louis' frustration is the riches found by talented young riders in Poland, Denmark and other speedway countries.

In the last few years Poland has produced five Under-21 world champions. Mrs Louis said: “There has been enormous financial and logistic effort made by Polish club managers in preparing riders for Under-21 competitions.

“No expense has been spared when young talent is on the horizon. I witnessed Piotr Protasiewicz's Under-21 victory in Olching, Germany, while our own asset Jarek Hampel's victory last year was based on his engines being tuned by top tuner Flemming Graversen.

“All this success cost thousands but Poland now has riders ready to hit the big time. There would be little change out of £10.000, but people in Poland are prepared to help young riders and see them succeed.

“It is the same in Denmark, where the authorities are setting an example of how to look after young talent, and the benefits are now being seen.

“Jesper B Jensen received £10,000 when he became world Under-21 champion.

“There is no such support from the British Speedway Promoters' Association. What have they ever offered a British rider at the beginning of their career?

“No wonder, there is black hole between well-established stars like Mark Loram, Scott Nicholls and Lee Richardson and the next generation.

“One look at this year's world Under-21 final tells the story, with not one British rider in the main field.

“It needs a big shake-up. The BSPA appears to be totally involved in arguments about petty meaningless things and promoters are mainly at each other's throats.

“We do not seem to be a bit concerned that England has no one competing for world titles, or even top ten places.

“Large sums of money have been received by the BSPA from Sky TV, and surely one new tuned engine at a cost of £2,000 for rising young riders is not an extravagant demand? Or will we forever be dependent on foreigners?”

BSPA chairman Chris van Straaten announced last week that an Academy - funded by satellite television money - is to be set up with eight youngsters joining the scheme in the hope that England can produce international class riders.

But Mrs Louis is not impressed. She said: “We have heard it all before and I have no faith in it getting off the ground. Other schemes have been announced before but have not got very far.

“Whether this proves a success remains to be seen. British fans do not want to wait eight years while 15-year-olds develop into GP riders.”