No taking the P out of Tom

YOU have to mind your P's, if not your Q's, when in the company of Tom P Madsen.The 25-year-old Danish speedway rider cannot wait to get started after signing for Ipswich Evening Star Witches.

By Elvin King

YOU have to mind your P's, if not your Q's, when in the company of Tom P Madsen.

The 25-year-old Danish speedway rider cannot wait to get started after signing for Ipswich Evening Star Witches.

"This is going to be my year," said the former King's Lynn man, who will start the season in a Witches Elite League reserve berth.

Madsen insisted, on a visit to Ipswich to complete paperwork for his loan deal from parent club Berwick, that he does not want his name shortened.

This is not to avoid confusion with any other rider called Tom Madsen, but because of family loyalties.

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Madsen said: "My middle name is Paarup and I am the only person in Denmark with that name. My family bought it when I was a baby and it stays in the family. No other family can use it.

"I can hand it down to a son and will be proud to do that. It is the name of a village that my father comes from near Esjberg. It is unique to me."

Madsen lives with English wife Sam near King's Lynn, and he will be travelling to Foxhall Stadium on match days via Newmarket where his mechanic lives.

"Now is the time for my career to lift-off," added Madsen. "I am ambitious, and want to move up a step. Ipswich is the perfect club for me right now.

"With people like John Louis in the pits there will always be someone around I can ask about mechanical and riding matters. I never had this at King's Lynn.

"I want to move up from a reserve berth as quickly as possible and force my way into the team proper. I enjoy riding at Foxhall, and in my experience it is the best prepared circuit in England."

Madsen, who will also ride for Lynn in the Premier League when Shane Parker is unavailable, will be one of the mainstays of the Witches British League Cup side.

"I will ride in every Ipswich match," he confirmed. "Lynn will have to look elsewhere if Ipswich have a meeting.

"We are all young, and all capable of improvement. I am excited about this Ipswich side, and we can have a big say in the Elite League title race."

Madsen rode for Berwick in 1999 before joining Lynn where he came within one match of winning the title when Peterborough pipped them on the last night of the 2000 season. Lynn won the Knock-Out Cup that year.

Chris Louis has made light of a wrist injury he sustained last week. "It is nothing," said the rider, who has been officially named in the Ipswich Elite League one-to-seven for this year after having his average re-assessed.

"I will decide nearer the time whether I will be fit to race. It is a waiting game," he said today.

If Louis fails to make it Ipswich will bring in another rider to take his place, with the proviso that the long-term Witches skipper will be re-considered when he recovers full fitness after sustaining a back injury last April.

The list of riders to replace Louis, if unfit, is shortening after Ipswich confirmed they had enquired about Freddie Eriksson, Ales Dryml and Daniel Nermark.

The first two look out of the equation now, while the latter broke his thigh riding at Oxford last June.

Former England captain Louis has shown his caring side.

The man, who has ridden for Ipswich every year since 1989, received a life-threatening head injury in 2001 riding in Poland.

A pole used to hold up the starting gate was left on the track and struck him at the start of his second circuit. The start marshal has been found guilty in a criminal trial and given a suspended sentence - thanks to Louis.

"Such is the way they do things in Poland, that the start marshal suggested his own punishment and it was given to me to agree," said Louis.

"I know that he didn't mean to hurt me and prison was too heavy a price for him to pay, so I was happy to agree with his suspended punishment."

Ipswich official Elite League 2003 side: S Nicholls (9.61 average), J Hampel (7.35), P Hurry (6.81), C Louis (6.10), C Slabon (5.86), T P Madsen (5.42), D Bird (4.74) (to share with one other floater probably S Stead).

Witches British League Cup side: P Hurry (6.81), C Louis (6.10), C Slabon (5.86), TP Madsen (5.42), K Jansson (4.50). Limit 36 points, two riders to confirm.