Witches have two plans

IPSWICH Evening Star Witches could still go two ways when it comes to formulating their 2006 Elite League speedway team.They could go for a strong top end - or alternatively opt for strength in depth.

By Elvin King

IPSWICH Evening Star Witches could still go two ways when it comes to formulating their 2006 Elite League speedway team.

They could go for a strong top end - or alternatively opt for strength in depth.

Witches rider/manager Chris Louis confirmed this today when he revealed that the club had still not completed any more signings to go with Piotr Protasiewicz.

The Pole, who has an average of 7.91, completed his signing last week, and with Louis certain to be in the team Ipswich have two heat leaders already decided.

What Witches supporters are itching to know is whether the club bring in a rider who will become No. 1?

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Louis said: “We currently have two plans. The first involves a rider with a higher average than Pepe and myself coming in.

“The second sees no eight-point rider in the side and a team that will have strength in depth.

“It depends on the availability of the rider(s) we have in mind, and it looks as though it will be after the holiday period before we will know.”

Louis revealed at the recent Witches Supporters' Club annual general meeting that the club tried to purchase Niels-Kristian Iversen before the Dane signed for Peterborough.

Ipswich will have received the full £36,000 transfer fee from Coventry for Great Britain No. 1 Scott Nicholls by the start of the new season - and this cash was to be used if they could have persuaded new Grand Prix rider Iversen to sign.

Iversen was ear-marked to replace Hans Andersen, who left Ipswich in the autumn to move to Peterborough on a full transfer.

Ipswich had originally tried to use the money from Nicholls' transfer to buy Andersen from his former parent club Poole.

With failed bids for both Danes, the money is still available - and it remains to be seen how it will be spent with Louis confirming that it is being set aside to improve the club's asset base.

Ipswich remain cagey on the Mark Loram situation, with the official word being that they have not been told that the Stowmarket-based 2000 world champion is available.

The signing of Protasiewicz has not been welcomed by some supporters, after it was expected that the 30-year-old Pole would not find the time to devote Elite League speedway now that he is back on the Grand Prix scene.

Protasiewicz appeared to run out of steam last September and he missed Ipswich's final two meetings.

And some are suggesting that he might not last the full course - with Mikael Max his possible replacement when the Swede regains full fitness in May.

Ipswich have not knocked the short-term signing of world champion Tony Rickardsson on the head, but his nine-point-plus average makes it not so likely as if the Swede was below nine points.

n Wolverhampton have signed 1996 world champion Billy Hamill, who was a possible target for Ipswich Witches for next season, in a loan deal from Coventry.

Hamill, who started his career with the now-defunct Cradley Heathens in 1990, has signed to ride alongside Swedish duo Peter Karlsson and Freddie Lindgren.

Wolves chief Chris Van Straaten said: “I had very emotional connections with Cradley Heath in my younger days and, if anything, that has stopped me from bringing Hamill to the club earlier.

“We have had the opportunity to sign him in previous seasons, but we have put that behind us now and I'm sure he will be giving his all for Wolverhampton.”

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