One-sided meeting as Witches win

FOXHALL Stadium witnessed one of its most one-sided speedway meetings when Ipswich Evening Star Witches hammered Arena-Essex in the Elite League last night.

By Elvin King

FOXHALL Stadium witnessed one of its most one-sided speedway meetings when Ipswich Evening Star Witches hammered Arena- Essex in the Elite League last night.

In football terms, it was like a full strength Arsenal against a makeshift Accrington Stanley, such was the professional exhibition from the home riders against a team that were injury-hit and unable to put up any significant opposition.

Home fans still had something to cheer with the Ipswich men giving 100 per cent and gaining their fifth point in two days against the second-from-bottom Essex side.

Already without three of their regulars, Arena-Essex lost their number one Mikael Max after heat five when he aggravated a groin injury, having broken a thigh at the back end of last season.

It was money for old rope for the Ipswich top men and they all enjoyed a bumper pay day.

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Chris Louis was unbeaten and showed in scoring his second paid maximum this month that he must be a serious candidate for a Great Britain World Cup place.

Louis is in the provisional 12-man squad announced yesterday - along with Mark Loram - and although he will be 37 when the World Cup takes place later next month his pedigree was there for all to see.

He helped Ipswich comfortably collect their sixth aggregate bonus point of the season on a night when young German Tobi Kroner made a promising home Ipswich debut.

The visitors had to bring in Mildenhall Conference League rider James Purchase, who was not surprisingly way out of his depth in his five starts.

King's Lynn's Troy Batchelor came in to replace number eight Brent Werner, who was having treatment for an injured shoulder.

Whether Batchelor was legally eligible to ride is in doubt, as he is the number eight for Coventry in the Elite League and according to Ipswich should only replace a missing top-five rider for another club in the top flight.

Ipswich were willing to be lenient and are unlikely to take any action, such is the unfortunate position that Arena-Essex find themselves.

It was still an encouraging night for Ipswich and the points they have collected over the last two evenings will cement their position in a play-off position.

Ipswich were held in the first heat when Kim Jansson went back to his old ways and made the type of error that has been rare this season. He passed Max on the fourth bend, but then wobbled almost to a halt on the next corner and was overtaken by the visiting rider in a race won by Protasiewicz.

Kroner soon made an impression on the home fans, scoring a point in heat two. It was no surprise that he looked tentative on his first laps at a new circuit, but he still showed potential despite finishing some distance behind Daniel King, who was far too good for this company.

Louis gated to win heat three with former Witch Steve Johnston going past Robert Miskowiak coming out of the second bend.

Batchelor made the best start in heat four, but was passed by Loram on the second lap, and later on the same circuit Joonas Kylmakorpi went beyond Kroner in a drawn heat.

Ipswich stretched their lead in race five, with Louis passing Max in style on the third lap, with the Swede withdrawing from the meeting after the race following consultation with the medics.

Protasiewicz continued on his merry way with a comfortable win in heat six, with Jansson pushing Kylmakorpi all the way, but failing to gain second place.

Loram won heat seven with ease and Jansson did the same in the following race with Kroner and Ipswich-based Leigh Lanham swapping places for a couple of laps before the German had to settle for last place.

The home team then put their foot on the throttle with the Hammers by now not only depleted but also demoralised. Three consecutive 5-1s took the Witches 20 points ahead at the interval.

The last four heats saw Ipswich fail to extend their lead with tactical riders Batchelor and Johnston both scoring double points when finishing second in heats 12 and 14 respectively.

In-between, Kylmakorpi became the only visiting rider to take the chequered flag when he out-gated the Ipswich pair.

In the last race, Protasiewicz locked up on the first and second bends and Kylmakorpi had no option than to ride straight into him.

The Ipswich man was excluded from the re-run with the visiting rider thankfully able to get to his feet suffering no further discomfort, as he is already riding despite a painful shoulder condition.

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