Pepe hopes are hanging by a thread

IPSWICH Evening Star Witches' hopes of grabbing the signature of Pepe Protasiewicz for the forthcoming season hang by a thread today.The former Grand Prix star, who will be 32 next month, is wanted by the Witches and has said he would be happy to return to Foxhall for a third successive season.

By Mike Bacon

IPSWICH Evening Star Witches' hopes of grabbing the signature of Pepe Protasiewicz for the forthcoming season hang by a thread today.

The former Grand Prix star, who will be 32 next month, is wanted by the Witches and has said he would be happy to return to Foxhall for a third successive season.

He has already held talks with Ipswich promoter John Louis.


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However, a contract to ride in Russia is currently sitting on Protasiewicz's table in Poland.

If he signs it - and with the Russian meetings, all 12 of them, on Thursdays - it would see race night clashes at Foxhall and surely mean him kissing goodbye to any hopes of a return to Suffolk - leaving the Witches still desperately attempting to finalise their 2007 side.

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It is a huge dilemma for Protasiewicz and a potentially damaging one for the Witches if they don't get their man.

“It is a big problem for us all,” Protasiewicz said last night. “I want really only to ride for Ipswich in England, but I very much want to give Russia a try.

“I rode there at the end of the season last year and want to go back. I have sent John Louis my Russian contract to look at, but with 12 Thursdays in it, I don't know how to get round it.

“Most are in the second half of the season and only one is in April, two in May and two in June.

“I have told John Louis if I cannot start the season, I could ride at the end of the year.

“I really do want to ride in Russia but I see this as a big problem for Ipswich.”

That puts the Witches in an impossible position on signing Protasiewicz if he decides to ride in Russia.

The Suffolk side also face the threat of Oxford snapping up the Polish star. The Cheetahs have been in contact with Protasiewicz and with home meetings at Cowley on a Friday this year, it would be easier for Protasiewicz to fly into Heathrow from Moscow on Friday lunchtimes.

“I have spoken to Oxford, but I don't know them as well as I do people at Ipswich,” Protasiewicz added.

“I have spoken to Sergey Derkin (a Russian rider) and he has told me the flights to Heathrow are good.”

Russia apart, Protasiewicz also has commitments in Sweden and Poland.

The Witches will be hoping Protasiewicz decides to give Russia a miss and with the Suffolk side still looking for two more riders to make up their 2007 side, ever-decreasing numbers of available riders is making the task more difficult.

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