Ipswich Witches boss Chris Louis: Final piece in the jigsaw – Captain King – The Klindt factor – Covatti joy – More from Heeps – Season tickets – Track work
PUBLISHED: 12:15 22 January 2020 | UPDATED: 12:18 22 January 2020
It’s just over two months until the start of the 2020 speedway season and MIKE BACON caught up with Ipswich Witches boss CHRIS LOUIS...
Q. It's six riders down, one to go. What can you tell us about the final piece in the Witches jigsaw?
A. Well, it's taking time to be sort to be honest and I have no intention of announcing anything until it is. All I will say is I think fans will be pleased with our final rider - and how our 1-7 looks. He has the ingredients we have been looking for in all our riders - he will gel with the team, is entertaining and exciting.
Q. You have six riders announced: Nicolai Klindt, Danny King, Cameron Heeps, Jake Allen, Danny Ayres and Nico Covatti. Obviously you are happy with that make-up so far.
A. Yes, very much so. As I said, all the riders are the type of riders me and team manager Ritchie Hawkins want to work with. Not just talented but good characters. If that's one thing we have learned over the years it's how a togetherness and having a good character can have such a positive effect on the team and results.
Q. So, back in November when you were planning a team, is this pretty well the one you wanted?
A. Back in November we had a pretty broad sheet to be honest and plenty of ideas. I'm not going to say this was our only and definitive 1-7, far from it. But it's turning out how we envisaged our team would be.
Q. Last season Ipswich reached the play-offs. I imagine it's the same target again?
A. Well, yes of course. But getting in the play-offs in a seven-strong league is ok, but doesn't meant a huge amount unless you win them. We want to go one better this season. Last year we were second and I think we were the second best team. Swindon were good and I was disappointed with the final. But that's behind us now.
Q. You have three riders back from last season, Danny King, Cameron Heeps and Jake Allen. What are your hopes and goals for them?
A. I'm excited about these three riders because I'm convinced they can all improve on last season. The skipper, Danny, was coming back from a horrible injury and he was getting back to his best as the season wore on, so I think he will improve this year. Cameron saw the benefit of working hard off the track and I'm sure there is no reason that won't happen again, while Jake had a good 2019, but an injury didn't help him - so I know he will be looking to kick on.
Q. Nico Covatti returns, Nicolai Klindt and Danny Ayres are new faces. Thoughts on these three riders, Chris?
A. Having Nico Covatti back is a no-brainer. He's a huge fans' favourite and showed on his return to Foxhall with Poole last season he still knows the quickest way round. And I'm hoping Nicolai Klindt's professionalism, in the way he prepares his bikes and handles himself, rubs off even more on a team which is doing the right things anyhow. Nicolai is an amiable guy, I hope he can be a consistent performer for us home and away, double figures each week would be nice! As for Danny Ayres, you know you will get 110% each race. Again with the likes of Nicolai and Danny King about, hopefully Danny can learn a great deal and push him in the direction he has shown he can go.
Q. More generally, Nicki Pedersen is back in the Premier League with Sheffield. That's a great coup for them?
A. It is and I take my hat off to them for splashing out like that. Nicki isn't the rider he used to be but is still very capable and he will be very good for crowds at Sheffield - and for teams who Sheffield visit.
Q. How are season tickets going?
A. Very good and we are pleased with the uptake. It's already up on last season.
Q. Have you taken a look at the make-up of the other six teams and if so, your thoughts?
A. I've had a quick look and I suspect the pundits will make us bottom again, which suits us! Swindon look good again of course, but many teams have not changed that significantly, apart from Sheffield who are new into the Premier League.
Q. There is a transfer window in the sport this season. Thoughts on that?
A. I like it. Teams can't just chop and change at will. You will have had to ride, I think it is six meetings before you can make changes and than again only during the last six meetings. The meetings is the middle, which is half of them you cannot make changes, unless injury of course.
Q. There has been more track work this winter. What has been going on?
A. Well we're improving the camber, the banking on the bends. We are taking down the inside of the track and the middle a bit allowing more banking on the outside. It's coming along well and I think it will make another big difference to the racing.
THE Witches 2020 fixture list comes out on Thursday morning