Witches ace Craig drops the drink

SPEEDWAY: Craig Boyce means business this season – he has given up drinking. The 34-year-old Australian has not touched a drop of alcohol this year as he prepares for a speedway season where he expects to go better than in 2001.

CRAIG Boyce means business this season – he has given up drinking.

The 34-year-old Australian has not touched a drop of alcohol this year as he prepares for a speedway season where he expects to go better than in 2001.

The Ipswich Evening Star Witches heat leader is now back at his English base in Southampton after a winter resting in the sun in the Sydney area of Australia.

"I am chuffed to be riding for Ipswich again this season," he said. "I loved it last year and didn't need asking twice to return.

"I am so serious about it all that I have given up the drink. It was a bit hard to pass a few of my favourite pubs in Sydney for the first week or so but my New Year resolution is holding firm.

"The season cannot start soon enough and I am working hard on my machinery. I had five new engines last season and have one brand new one this time."

Most Read

Boyce has not ridden a speedway bike in earnest since last October when the 2001 British season ended. He did some moto cross for fun Down Under and had a lucky escape when he went over his handlebars at full tilt after hitting a tree stump.

"I flew through the air, but ended up unscathed," added Boyce, who has vowed to enter speedway first corners quicker this time round.

"My Witches partner Jeremy Doncaster is always on about having to wait for me on the first bend. I plan to stop him moaning. Seriously, it is great riding with Jem, and with Carl Baldwin now in the team I feel like a young man again.

"I had a steady 2001 but aim to go better this time. I know I can improve. Hell, it was only a few years ago I was a 9.50 average man. And I know I can do it again.

"Ipswich is the first club I have ridden for where there is a family atmosphere. There is pressure as there is with every job. But it is not over the top and the atmosphere is relaxed.

"John and Magda Louis are like mates and I have a great relationship with them. I felt at home from day one 12 months ago."

Boyce is looking to add some Ipswich-based sponsors and he has prepared a special brochure that he is keen to hand out to local business people.

Contact can be made through me on elvin.king@ecng.co.uk or by telephone direct to 01473 282343. Alternatively, Boyce can be contacted via Foxhall Stadium and at the club's official Press Day on Wednesday March 13.

Witches skipper Chris Louis is warming up for the new season in the sunshine. The 32-year-old, who suffered a life-threatening injury last June, is currently testing himself and his machinery in Italy.

Boyce and Louis are set to be joined by their Witches team mates for the Supporters club disco that is being held at St Clement's Hospital social club, Foxhall Road, Ipswich on Thursday March 14. Tickets are priced £5 and will be available on the door. Foxhall presenter Kevin Long will be speaking to the team for the first time on the mike in 2002.

Tonight is signing-on night for all current and prospective track staff, and this takes place at the stadium from 7.30 pm. There will also be a chance to purchase Witches season tickets and British Grand Prix tickets.

The Witches Supporters Club is organising a tour to the first three World Cup meetings at Sheffield, Poole and Eastbourne involving two nights' accommodation on August 4 and 5. To book ring Styles on 01473 718477 or Chris Ellis on 01394 211602.

The Supporters Club is running coaches to Ipswich's first two away Elite League matches - at Coventry on March 23 and Wolverhampton on March 25. These leave Crown Street, Ipswich at 3 pm and cost £16 for members and £19 for non-members for Coventry and £18 and £21 for Wolves. They can be booked at the above numbers.

Ipswich's KO Cup match at Eastbourne has been brought forward one week to April 20.

FORMER world champion Mark Loram could be riding in British speedway this year after all.

There is speculation that the Stowmarket-based rider will be joining Eastbourne, with the Sussex club planning a big announcement later today.

Eagles co-promoter Jon Cook said this morning: "All I can say at this stage is that yesterday was a very long and hectic day for us at Eastbourne.

"We feel this announcement will have a major influence on our forthcoming season and I think Eastbourne fans will be very happy.

"It may be something to do with the team, we have had to make a major decision."

Loram, like Greg Hancock and Todd Wiltshire, had been forced out of the Elite League by the new rule over the number of Grand Prix riders allowed per team.

EX-IPSWICH rider and England Under-21 champion Ben Howe is to make a full-time return with Newport in the Premier League.

The ex-England international has agreed terms with the Wasps as a replacement for the injured Ashley Jones. Howe damaged his arm two years ago and is only now back to full fitness.

After two years in the doldrums he is determined to make the most of this fresh chance.