No Hampel, no points for Witches
JAREK Hampel is a no-show as Ipswich Witches fall to defeat at Foxhall against Lakeside Hammers.
Sky Sports Elite League: Ipswich Evening Star Witches 42 Lakeside Hammers 51
NO Jarek Hampel and no points for the Ipswich Witches. That was the plan truth of the matter at Foxhall Stadium tonight as the Suffolk side put their hopes of a play-off position in a precarious position after a 51-42 defeat to Lakeside Hammers.
But this meeting was won before a wheel had been turned in anger as the Witches went into it without their number one rider Hampel who was stuck at Poznan airport after his flight to Stansted was delayed three hours.
Call it bad luck or call it bad planning the fact is the Polish star's appearance in the Witches side tonight is likely to have seen a nine point victory rather than a nine point defeat.
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Mildenhall's Jan Graversen was drafted in but was obviously going to find the going too tough.
With the Witches already using rider replacement it was going to take a monumental effort to beat the solid Essex team who still have one eye on a top two finish themselves.
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And in the first half of the meeting the Witches gave their all but in the end ran out of quality as well as suffering to crucial snapped chains for Steve Johnston in heat nine and Toni Kroner in heat 11.
At the time both were in scoring positions and gifted the visitor's heat advantages but it is clutching at straws to suggest that bad luck was the difference between victory and defeat.
Indeed the home side were indebted to another master class performance of super speedway racing by Piotr Swiderski who rattled up his highest ever Witches score with a magnificent paid 19 points.
However the support he received was patchy with only Robert Miskowiak and Kroner winning a heat each.
Indeed it was Swiderski and Kroner who got the home side off to a flying start as the drizzle petered down from the start with a 5-1 maximum in the opening race.
Chris Schramm rode a blinder, lining up and passing Lubos Tomicek in heat two before Lakeside drew level in the next.
Schramm's first bend efforts in heat four got the slow starting Miskowiak into second place with Lakeside reserve Ricky Kling already showing his liking for the Foxhall circuit.
The disappointing Miskowiak was passed by Tomicek in heat six but a change of bikes saw him fly out to win heat seven, alongside Kroner, as the Witches drew level.
Johnston's engine failure in heat nine put the Hammers back in control and it was a position they were not going to relinquish.
Swiderski suffered his first defeat in heat 10 before Kroner was a victim of a hard Andreas Jonsson tussle in heat 11.
Kroner was clearly not happy with Jonsson's move and to add insult to injury his chain also snapped in the re-run.
Shields and Kling as good as sowed it up in the next and although Swiderski picked up six points as a tactical rider in heat 13, Miskowiak was at the back and the result was now not in doubt.
Jonas Davidsson clinched victory for the Essex side in heat 14 and then Shields and Swiderski had a super ding-dong battle in the final heat with the visiting man coming out on top.
How much the Witches with rue Hampel's non appearance come the final reckoning we will have to wait and see.
But certainly the Witches are now likely to need at least one and maybe two victories on the road if they are to guarantee themselves a top four finish.
Ipswich: P Swiderski 18+1, R/R J Graversen 1, S Johnston 4+1, R Miskowiak 8+1, T Kroner 7+1, C Schramm 4+1
Lakeside: A Jonsson 9, L Lanham 2+1, A Shields 13, J Davidsson 6+1, J Kylmakorpi 6+2, R Kling 13+1, L Tomicek 2+1
Referee: Tony Steele
Track Conditions: withstood the rain well
Witches Man of the Meeting: Priotr Swiderski - another fantastic night's work from this season's star man