Welcome guest settles nerves

CHRIS Louis celebrated his return to the Grand Prix scene by leading Ipswich Evening Star Witches to a spellbinding victory at Foxhall Stadium last night.

By Elvin King

CHRIS Louis celebrated his return to the Grand Prix scene by leading Ipswich Evening Star Witches to a spellbinding victory at Foxhall Stadium last night.

The acting Ipswich skipper may not have been at his best on slick circuit in a match where Hans Andersen and guest Mark Loram managed to gain the 4-2 needed in the final race to pull off a nail-biting Sky Bet Elite League victory.

But his place as a wild card - along with Eastbourne's David Norris - in the Fiat Vans British Grand Prix at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, on Saturday, June 12, looks like being ratified this week.

The Witches were almost shocked last night and it was thanks mainly to Andersen and Arena Essex rider Loram that they sent their fans home happy.

A defeat would have dealt Ipswich's play-off hopes a big blow and it needed all the skills of Stowmarket-based Loram to see the Witches home.

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His victory in heat 13 was crucial, particularly when Andersen was pushed aside by Adam Shields and dropped from second to last.

And after the Eagles had flown to a 5-1 in heat 14 to take the lead for the first time, it needed all Loram's track craft to see the Witches home.

The rider who replaced injured skipper Scott Nicholls, emerged from the second bend of the final race in second place behind the fast-gating Andersen.

But in-form Norris was having his best Foxhall meeting for many years, and the ex-Witch pushed Loram all the way.

Andersen was not lightning quick up front and Norris looked capable of taking the Dane as well if he got beyond Loram.

Loram somehow kept him at his back wheel until the final corner when Norris went bursting through - too late to catch Andersen.

Another healthy home crowd went wild on a night when some home riders felt that Ipswich lost the aggregate bonus point - and almost the match - because of the unusual slick state of the track.

Louis said: “Rain was forecast and the track was prepared for that eventuality. It was slicker than normal and it may have caught out one or two of our riders, but this happens sometimes.”

Ipswich were eight points ahead after two heats and 12 points in front after six races.

They looked as though they have formed the basis of a comfortable win, and at this point were on course to collect the extra point after losing 50-40 to the Eagles at Arlington on Monday.

Norris came in as a tactical rider to have his win doubled to six points in heat seven, but when Danny Bird and Kim Jansson combined for a 5-1 in heat eight it looked as though Eastbourne had played their only trump card.

But after the interval they got the bit between their teeth and clocked up two 5-1s and two 4-2s in the next six races.

Andersen was furious with the aggressive riding of Australian Shields in heat 13 and he made his feelings known in no uncertain manner after the race.

Eagles team manager Jon Cook joined in the debate and some restraining had to be done.

There was more drama as the meeting came to boiling point in the penultimate race when Louis suffered carburettor problems at the tapes.

He had less than 60 seconds to find another bike and used the machine put together for Daniel King, whose equipment was on the way to an Under-21 meeting in Latvia on Sunday.

This contained a Louis engine and a Scott Nicholls frame, but Louis and Kim Jansson were unable to stop a re-vitalised Peter Ljung and former Witch Joonas Kylmakorpi gaining a 5-1.

Ipswich's nerves jangled in the pits and on the terraces before Andersen and Loram rounded off an eventful evening in great style for home supporters.

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