Pepe fired up for Bees test

PIOTR Protasiewicz dons the number one race jacket for The Evening Star Witches for the first time tonight.The Foxhall Heath side entertain Coventry in the Knockout Cup quarter-final, first leg, hoping to build up a good lead before next month's return clash at Brandon.

By Mike Bacon

PIOTR Protasiewicz dons the number one race jacket for The Evening Star Witches for the first time tonight.

The Foxhall Heath side entertain Coventry in the Knockout Cup

quarter-final, first leg, hoping to build up a good lead before next month's return clash at Brandon.

Protasiewicz's top billing is the result of a sound run of form for the World Cup-winning Pole who has enjoyed a less spectacular, but far more solid start to this season than last.

Now in his second year with the club, Protasiewicz has looked far more at home on the Foxhall circuit this year and is currently relishing his time in England.

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“I am riding better in England than I am any other country,” he said.

“For me, all meetings are important, but especially at Ipswich where I am now in my second year. I have raced well and my average is up, so I am looking forward to moving to the number one position.

“But it is not about me, it is about the team and us beating Coventry.”

Protasiewicz comes face to face once more with Scott Nicholls tonight, the Bees captain and former Witch, and the man many felt the Pole was replacing after Nicholls' move to the midlands 18 months ago.

That has never sat comfortably with Protasiewicz, who considers himself his own man.

“I know Scott Nicholls is a good rider, but he is Scott Nicholls and I am Pepe Protasiewicz,” he added.

“I never think about Nicholls and I only want my team to win.”

It is the start of a busy period for Protasiewicz, who rides in the British Grand Prix at Cardiff on Saturday night, the Elite League Best Pairs with Mark Loram on Sunday and then in the Evening Star Witches team who are at Reading on Monday.

The Witches will be looking for a decent lead to take to Brandon in the second leg of a competition that has brought them much success over the years.

They have won the cup five times - in 1976, 1978, 1981, 1984 and 1998 - and if they can gain a similar nine-point lead to the one they did in the recent Elite League clash at Foxhall, it would do well.

Skipper Chris Louis moves to the number four position in the new June averages - a place that is sure to suit both parties.

Champions Coventry have endured an up-and-down start to the season, although Nicholls roared back into form with a 15-point maximum against Eastbourne on Monday night.

The break in league action for the Witches will allow a few clubs around them to catch up on meetings in the Elite League, but Ipswich are in a decent position and a nice cup run would make that position even

sweeter.

Ipswich: 1 P Protasiewicz, 2 K Jansson, 3 R Miskowiak, 4 C Louis, 5 M Loram, 6 D King, 7 J Jaros.

Coventry: 1 S Nicholls, 2 M Risager, 3 R Schlein, 4 B Janniro, 5 C Harris, 6 M Smolinski, 7 O Allen.

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