Witches close to Boyce signature
SPEEDWAY: Ipswich Witches are close to a deal that will keep Craig Boyce at Foxhall Stadium in 2002.The Australian verbally agreed terms last weekend and the paperwork is now being processed, with Boyce's parent club Poole Pirates happy for him to remain on loan at Ipswich.
By Elvin King
IPSWICH Witches are close to a deal that will keep Craig Boyce at Foxhall Stadium in 2002.
The Australian verbally agreed terms last weekend and the paperwork is now being processed, with Boyce's parent club Poole Pirates happy for him to remain on loan at Ipswich.
Boyce has proved a big hit with Witches fans and formed a strong spearhead with Scott Nicholls and Chris Louis, ending with a match average of over eight.
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The 34-year-old enjoyed the atmosphere at Ipswich from day one after switching from King's Lynn last winter. He is keen to stay for another year, but Ipswich were aware that they had to move quickly.
With the move to just one Grand Prix rider per Sky Sports Elite League team due to be rubber stamped at next week's British Speedway Promoters' Association annual conference, Boyce is a wanted man.
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The former world number three is just the type of rider to boost the top end of any side.
"Riders like Craig are going to be in big demand in 2002, and we are very close to completing a deal with him," said Witches promoter John Louis today. "He will be an important member of our side again."
If Ipswich can also agree a deal with skipper Chris Louis – who has been at Foxhall for the last 13 years – they will surely have one of the strongest spearheads in a weakened Elite League.
The make-up of the rest of the side will be vital however, and Louis senior is working hard to sign asset Leigh Lanham. The locally-based former British Under-21 champion has been on loan to Arena-Essex and the Premier League side is keen for him to stay with them.
Lanham proved what he could do in the top flight when he guested successfully for Ipswich at Coventry on September 15. He rode at the difficult number two position and scored five points. With a 4.44 average he would start at reserve for Ipswich and his inclusion would lift Witches fans, who asked overwhelmingly for his return in a recent poll in the Evening Star.
Over 300 fans have now taken part in the poll and there is also a strong call for the retention of last season's top five – although Jarek Hampel has already ruled himself out next year because of his Polish commitments.
MARK Loram, the Stowmarket-based rider, who won the world speedway championship last year, is currently without a club for 2002.
He is very keen to stay riding in the Elite League, and was reported to be moving to Belle Vue. However, Jason Crump this week signed for the Aces on loan from King's Lynn.
Loram cannot stay with Peterborough as they have opted for Ryan Sullivan as their Grand Prix rider.
Lynn may have a vacancy, but Nicki Pedersen could well be the Knights' GP rider. Eastbourne have no GP rider confirmed at present and another more likely alternative is for Loram to join a new Elite League club reportedly being set up at Sittingborne in Kent.
Belle Vue promoter John Perrin said: "After two years at the bottom of the league we're not prepared to tolerate that again.
"As soon as I was made aware that Jason was available I made a move and it's paid off.
"In my opinion he's the best rider in the world and he has always ridden our track really well. The deal took only a few minutes to agree."