Ipswich Witches 2019... MIKE BACON takes a closer look and gives his thoughts...
The Ipswich Witches 2019 roster has now been revealed. And with the team complete MIKE BACON takes a look at the 1-7 and gives his thoughts on the season ahead - as the Witches head back into the Premiership
Ipswich Witches fans now know their 2019 team after Chris Harris and David Bellego were added to the Witches line-up for the Premiership season ahead.
They join Danny King, Richard Lawson, Krystian Pieszczek, Cameron Heeps and Jake Allen, as promoter Chris Louis hopes – at the very least – Ipswich reach the top-four play-offs in the seven-strong Premiership.
It’s good news that the Witches are back at ‘the top table’ of speedway racing in this country.
Their drop down to the second tier of the sport steadied the Witches ship off track, but with only one Four-Team Championship title win in 2011 during their eight-year stint in the league, it wasn’t a huge success, trophy-wise anyhow.
But now Witches fans can look forward to the likes of Jason Doyle, Troy Batchelor, Max Fricke, Kenneth Bjerre, Hans Andersen and Robert Lambert, among others, as regular visitors to Foxhall. TV clashes involving the Witches will also follow.
OK, the Premiership in Britain is still missing many of the world’s top stars, but the level of racing should be noticeably higher at Foxhall this year.
So, what about the Witches’ hopes?
Well, to many pundits the Foxhall Heath side won’t start the season as favourites. And I have to agree.
The team has a solid look to it, with plenty of exciting racers.
The aim will be to make Foxhall a fortress. Winning on the road will be a bonus and that’s where the Suffolk side could struggle. But it’s going to be an interesting season for team boss Ritchie Hawkins’ side.
And in a strange way not being one of the favourites may play into the Witches’ hands?
Certainly during their spell in the second-tier, Ipswich, were always regarded as one of the favourites for silverware, but the big titles never arrived.
The Witches enter 2019 ‘under the radar’. The pressure is off. Let’s take a closer look at the men who will wear ‘the Witch’ in 2019.
Born: November 28, 1982, Truro, Cornwall, England. Av. 7.78
The three-time British champion is one of the country’s most exciting riders and Ipswich fans will love having ‘Bomber’ at Foxhall. An experienced racer, with more than 100 Grand Prix to his name, in all his years in the sport he has never ridden regualry for the Suffolk side. But that is set to change and Harris will bring with him not just an exciting racing style and experience, but a great team ethic.
Born: February 14, 1986, Whitehaven, Cumbria, England. Av. 6.72
After a successful junior career in motocross, which included winning the British 125cc championship in 2003, Lawson took up speedway in June 2008, aged 22. A rider who has ridden at Foxhall plenty of times, Lawson has warmed to the newly-shaped Suffolk circuit. Last season he had some impressive performances at Foxhall while racing for Lakeside – something that no doubt alerted the Witches management to him.
Born: August 14, 1986, Maidstone, Kent, Engand. Ave. 6.52
A former British Champion, King has been a rock in the Witches side since he returned to the club as No.1 four seasons ago. He first rode for the Witches as a 17-year-old, but left the club when they dropped into the second tier of racing in 2011, before returning in 2015. A nasty arm injury curtailed his 2018 year and he will be determined to hit the ground running. A big season ahead for King who has the ability to make Foxhall a real fortress for himself.
Born September 23, 1995, Gdansk, Poland. Ave. 6.50
The Polish rider had his first taste of British action with Leicester Lions last season and did well. The 23-year-old was part of the Polish World Cup squad that lifted the title in 2016 and he also finished runner-up in the World Under-21 Championship that year to Max Fricke. It has been many years since a Polish rider last rode for the Witches and there have been some big successes – Tomasz Gollob and Jarek Hampel to name two. Pieszczek would love to emulate them!
Born: May 15, 1993, Marmande, France. Ave. 6.11
A big-track racer and a man who knows what it takes to win League titles, having won the old Premier League with Glasgow in 2011 and the Premiership with Swindon in 2017. He rode for the Robins again last year. Coming to Foxhall will be a steep learning curve for a racer who prefers big tracks, but he says he’s keen to learn and certainly has the talent.
Born: October 27, 1995, Perth, Australia. Ave. 4.72
The popular Aussie has a plethora of Western Australia State titles to his name and has shown signs of real quality at times in a Witches racejacket. He signed for Ipswich on his 16th birthday in 2011 and bar one season away from Foxhall at Rye House in 2016, has always been a Witch. But he’s never ridden in the top-flight for Ipswich. This is a great opportunity for him, starting at reserve, to make giant strides.
Born: August 11, 1995, Brisbane, Australia. Ave. 4.56
Along with Heeps forms a young and exciting reserve pairing for the Witches. Plenty of clubs were after Allen’s signature, but he has chose the Witches. In his short spell in Britain, Allen has enjoyed silverware success with Somerset, including League titles, KO Cup and League Cup victories. Could be a real star for the Witches.