Poles polish off Oxford

THEY came in their hundreds to pay tribute to speedway legend Tony Rickardsson, but they left paying homage to Polish masters Piotr Protasiewicz and Robert Miskowiak.

By Elvin King

THEY came in their hundreds to pay tribute to speedway

legend Tony Rickardsson, but they left paying homage

to Polish masters Piotr Protasiewicz and Robert Miskowiak.

Super Swede Rickardsson was upstaged by the Witches pair, who both roared to paid maximums as Ipswich Witches thrashed Oxford Cheetahs in the Elite League at Foxhall Stadium last night.

Witches asset Rickardsson had a poor night by his high standards on his last visit to Foxhall before he hangs up his leathers at the end of the season.

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But Protasiewicz and Miskowiak were top class and had the home fans purring with delight on a night when Mark Loram also showed his true colours - dropping just one point.

It all bodes well for the rest of the season, although Oxford must surely be weaker opposition than Ipswich will face as the campaign progresses.

The two Poles were paired in three races, and they scored 5-1s in all of them.

For the second night running, it was a commendable all-round display by Ipswich, with every rider winning at least one race, or being paid for a first place.

Loram was beaten by Rickardsson in his opening ride, but then turned on the style to confirm to Witches' fans that he is still among the very best in the world in the shale sport.

Loram beat Rickardsson in heats 13 and 15, while Protasiewicz also finished ahead of the great Swede, although on the first occasion Rickardsson crashed into the fence on the opening lap and was excluded.

Rickardsson, who first rode at Foxhall in 1991, was his usual professional self, but he had no answer to the power of the Ipswich top men in the latter stages.

The Witches are quoted at 12-1 for the championship and this might be worth a little wager.

With the water sprinkler broken, the track was not prepared as well as the club would have liked, but it stood up well on another cold night in front of a good crowd, with fans coming to bid farewell to Rickardsson.

There was never any doubt Ipswich would win, and for the second night running, they led from start to finish.

Adam Skornicki hit the deck, along with Miskowiak as they entered the third bend of heat three and was excluded, although the visiting rider complained to the referee, to no avail.

In the re-run, Ipswich claimed a maximum before the visitors had their only heat advantage of the night, when Rickardsson beat Loram and Lubos Tomicek finished ahead of Daniel King. But Poles Protasiewicz and Miskowiak combined successfully in race five.

Rickardsson flew beyond Chris Louis coming out of the second bend of heat six, before Loram won his first race and was followed home by a comfortable-looking Jan Jaros.

Eric Andersson fell at the back on the third lap of heat eight, with the referee awarding the race, even though Tomicek was pushing Kim Jansson hard for first place.

Jansson again did well, but it was the Poles who made the headlines with another 5-1 in heat nine, after Rickardsson went too wide and over a ridge, going into the third bend when chasing Protasiewicz.

It was an unusual sight to see him in the fence on his backside, but thankfully, the six-time world champion was soon on his feet.

Louis passed Davey Watt in style on the second lap, but Skornicki

eventually got the better of Jansson for third place in a drawn heat ten.

Loram took three circuits to get in front of Andersson in the re-run of heat 11, when David Howe crashed at the same part of the track as Rickardsson, when he was wearing the black and white helmet.

Ipswich gained a 5-1 in heat 12, before Loram gated ahead of Rickardsson to notch a confidence-boosting victory and although Louis was all over Howe, he could not pass.

Miskowiak saved his best for last when he went beyond Skornicki on the third lap, to complete his maximum in race 14. Jaros just got the better of Tomicek on the line.

Ipswich sent their fans home happy with a 5-1 in the final heat, to make it a memorable start to the season.

Former Scott Nicholls mechanic Steve Catling was helping King and this experienced spanner man will be helping the youngster all season.

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