Oxford to protest over double-header

SPEEDWAY: After suffering a nightmare last couple of heats at Foxhall Stadium, Oxford Cheetahs are certainly not keen to return to Ipswich for a league and cup double header on October 9.

By Elvin King

AFTER suffering a nightmare last couple of heats at Foxhall Stadium, Oxford Cheetahs are certainly not keen to return to Ipswich for a league and cup double header on October 9.

"We are working on it," said team manager Colin Meredith after the Evening Star/Woodward's Witches scored 5-1's in the final two heats to ruin the visitors' hopes of winning the Sky Sports Elite League championship on Tuesday night.

Oxford ride at home to Coventry on Friday October 5 and victory will give them the title. If they fail to win they have one match remaining in which to ensure they stay ahead of Poole at the top of the table.

This is scheduled for Foxhall on October 9, the second part of double header with the Knock-Out Cup semi-final, second leg due to take place first. The teams drew at Oxford in the first leg.

If Oxford fail to beat Coventry then they are likely to put in an appeal to the Speedway Control Board to switch their final league fixture at Ipswich.

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"If we beat Coventry we win the title, it is as simple as that," said an obviously frustrated Meredith. "We did not have enough heat winners to deserve to beat Ipswich tonight."

While maximum men Scott Nicholls and Jarek Hampel derservely took most of the plaudits, reserve Savalas Clouting enjoyed his match of the season. But for skipper Chris Louis it was a disappointing return to the track after over three months out injured.

Clouting confirmed that he has one eye on next season. "I want to stay riding and I want to stay with Ipswich," said the 26-year-old whose average has dropped to fewer than two points a meeting.

"I feel as keen now as I have for the last two years. It took me a long while to get over the death of Tim Woodward and I shall never forget him.

"I have been dreaming all season of having some fresh air between me and the riders behind. It would be great to score a few more points in October and then get sorted for next year.

"Since I switched to GM engines I have felt quicker and now the confidence is returning. A lot of my troubles have been in the head but not having regular matches because of GP meetings and rain-offs have not helped.

"Jeremy Doncaster has been a big help giving advice on machinery."

In contrast to Clouting's smiles, Louis was a rather forlorn figure in the pits after failing to score from his four rides.

"It would not have been so bad, had I looked like scoring," he said. "I was hoping for better than this. It is all well and good people saying that I need time to get back into the groove, but failing to score is a new experience for me.

"The rest of the lads did ever so well, and this defeat will make Oxford think with the KO Cup coming up."

Witches team manager Mike Smillie predicted that both Nicholls and Hampel could become world champions.

Smillie also confirmed that he has asked the referee to check Lukas Dryml's doctor's certificate with Oxford obviously gaining by using rider replacement for the Czech Republic rider who was missing with flu.

"By the time he is 27 Scotty will be world champion material," said Smillie. "He certainly has the potential and if he gets in to next year's Grand Prix series – and I am sure he will – 2002 will be a learning curve.

"From 2003 he can start to build his international career and a couple of years after that – at the latest – he will be competing for the sport's top crown.

"He was fantastic tonight, and so was Jarek who also has the makings of a world number one. This was his first maximum for us and fully deserved.

"Savalas Clouting looked hungry tonight, which was pleasing, in a match which was decided by one race – heat 14.

"Chris Louis is disappointed, but he has no need to be. I have no problem at all with his performance. Chris is currently six months behind his opponents in terms of race fitness after his long lay-off. It will come."

Hampel had a smile of satisfaction on his face. He said:" Without naming names, perhaps some of the so-called top riders will be able to remember me now.

"Perhaps they will say hello when we meet from now on. I knew I could achieve a maximum and I felt in the right frame of mind.

"In Poland on Sunday I only scored three points and this cheesed me off. I wanted to put that right."

Referee Paul Carrington confirmed that he went as long as he dared to see if Steve Johnston could beat the two-minute time allowance in heat 14.

He said: "Steve certainly had the full two minutes, and so did Chris Louis when he changed bikes at the tapes in heat six.

"When Steve was timed out Savalas Clouting may have been 20 yards behind the tapes but he was under power and reday to go. There was no reason to exclude him as well, as the Oxford camp were indicating."

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