Rule-change boost for Witches

IPSWICH Evening Star Witches rider manager Chris Louis today hailed the 2005 British Speedway Promoters' Association annual conference a success.Speaking from Tenerife where his father John was the official Witches representative, Louis junior said that he was now less worried about building a successful side for next season.

By Elvin King

IPSWICH Evening Star Witches rider manager Chris Louis today hailed the 2005 British Speedway Promoters' Association annual conference a success.

Speaking from Tenerife where his father John was the official Witches representative, Louis junior said that he was now less worried about building a successful side for next season.

“With the combined team points limit of 40 it means it is not so important to have an out-and-out number one in our team,” said Louis.

“There is no need now to have a rider with a nine point average leading the way.

“It is going to be tough building a side, but I am less worried now.”

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Reading have moved up from the Premier League to make it 11 teams in the Elite League in 2006, and the reduction from 42.50 to 40 points will ensure there is enough suitable riders to go around.

The 40-point limit (without bonuses) is a temporary reduction due to the extra side.

“It needed to be done this way,” added Louis. “It is a sensible move and we are happy with the outcome of the conference.

“We are looking to build up our asset base, and this measure will help. We have some great assets but they do not all want to ride in England.

“We could have built a side based on 42.50 points, but it will be easier with 40. And we will have more chance of success.”

The decision will dilute the strength of the Elite League, but there will still be most of speedway's top riders involved with world champion - and Ipswich asset - Tony Rickardsson expected to ride for Poole in his final season in the sport.

Louis said he expected to start confirming Witches team members within the next couple of weeks.

Since the end of last season number one Hans Andersen has moved to Peterborough while number two Piotr Protasiewicz looks unlikely to return to Foxhall Stadium in 2006.

Clubs will meet each other home and away twice in the regular league season.

The Elite League will be decided by a play-off involving the top four sides, while the tactical rider and tactical substitute rules are to remain the same.

Ipswich have been given a bye to the second round of the Knock-Out Cup.

The end-of-season Craven Shield format will stay unchanged, while the management committee will again comprise chairman Peter Toogood (Somerset), vice-chairman Chris Van Straaten (Wolverhampton), plus Matt Ford (Poole), Neil Machin (Sheffield) and Dave Pavitt (Isle of Wight).

Neil Middleditch will continue as manager of Great Britain, with Peter Oakes remaining in charge of the under-21s.

Mildenhall will ride in the Premier League, which will have a points limit of 33 (without bonus) for the top five riders in the team, plus two graded British reserves.

For the first time the Premier League title will be decided by play-offs, which will be contested by the top eight clubs.

DRAW for the first round of the Elite League Knockout Cup: Wolverhampton v Oxford, Swindon v Reading, Peterborough v Arena-Essex. Byes to second round: Belle Vue, Coventry, Eastbourne, Ipswich and Poole.

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