Pepe's promise to fans

PIOTR Protasiewicz will sign for the 2006 Ipswich Witches today and immediately promised Suffolk fans they will see a more consistent rider.The 30-year-old Pole had no hesitation in re-signing for Ipswich, despite the best efforts of Oxford to lure the Grand Prix star to Cowley.

By Mike Bacon

PIOTR Protasiewicz will sign for the 2006 Ipswich Witches today and immediately promised Suffolk fans they will see a more consistent rider.

The 30-year-old Pole had no hesitation in re-signing for Ipswich, despite the best efforts of Oxford to lure the Grand Prix star to Cowley.

“My biggest problem last season was near the end when I scored lowly,” Protasiewicz said from Poland last night.

“By the time the season was finishing, I was spending too much time thinking about not crashing, hoping I would get in the Grand Prix and not getting myself sorted out right.

“But it will be different next year. If fans remember I said when I signed for Ipswich in 2005 that I wanted to stay at least two seasons and didn't want just one year.

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“This year I am flying into Stansted rather than Luton and that will be better travelling for me. Yes, Oxford were interested in signing me, but the atmosphere at Ipswich is so very good, the fans are so good and I was only ever going to ride in England for Ipswich - as long as they wanted me.”

Protasiewicz began 2005 like a house on fire, reeling off a paid 15-point maximum at Wolverhampton in a knock-out cup clash.

He lowered Scott Nicholls' colours on the former skipper's return to Foxhall and then linked up with Hans Andersen for a maximum 5-1 in the final heat at the home of the Bees, as Ipswich won their first away Elite League meeting of 2005.

Mid-season the Pole was scoring a phenomenal amount of points, culminating in a 19-point haul at Oxford in an away defeat.

But the final third of the season saw Protasiewicz's form tail off and many Witches fans were concerned at his low scoring and also his non-appearance at the end of season awards evening when every other Witch was in attendance.

Talking to the amiable Pole, one senses he is fully aware he must do better throughout 2006.

“This year ahead must be my best season, in all leagues. Riding in England last year made me a better rider and I was so pleased when John Louis phoned to ask me to ride. It was a quick decision for me to make.

“I want to show the Ipswich people I can do it all season, not just in starts. I know that, I know what I have to do, be more consistent and I'm so sure I can do it.

“If I want to stay in the Grand Prix, I must be better in all countries.”

Protasiewicz will be riding in Sweden and Poland in 2006 and in all the Grand Prix. It is a hectic schedule, but he appears very comfortable with it, especially the flying arrangements to Stansted rather than Luton. He comes in on a 7.91 average.

Protasiewicz also passed on news of Robert Miskowiak, who enjoyed such a

successful first season at Foxhall last year.

“I am 70% sure Robert will come back to England and Ipswich,” Protasieiwcz added.

“I spoke to him two weeks ago and told him he must, just must ride in England if he is to continue improving. He knows that and I'm sure he will return.”

Quite what route Ipswich will now take in their team-building remains to be seen. Certainly Tony Rickardsson, with a high average of almost 10, coupled with Chris Louis' average of over eight, means Mikael Max, rather than Rickardsson is likely to be the chosen option.

Jarek Hampel could fill Max's boots until he returns, with the young Pole, an Ipswich asset, already indicating he would be happy to race in England for the first two months before the Grand Prix start.

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