Witches move off foot of the table

IPSWICH Evening Star Witches moved off the foot of the Sky Sports Elite League with their first league victory of the season when they defeated Wolverhampton Wolves 49-43 at Foxhall Stadium last night.

By Elvin King

IPSWICH Evening Star Witches moved off the foot of the Sky Sports Elite League with their first league victory of the season when they defeated Wolverhampton Wolves 49-43 at Foxhall Stadium last night.

They chose a guest wisely for injured number one Mark Loram and scored well throughout the side with every rider collecting a win or a paid victory.

Adam Shields came in for Loram and was unbeaten in his opening three races as the home side rammed home 5-1s in heats five and six to gain the upper hand.

Wolverhampton's number one, Peter Karlsson, called off with a virus and the 37-year-old did not fly over from his native Sweden.

The visitors used the rider replacement facility in his absence - and this accrued a paid eight points, which Karlsson would surely have bettered.

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On a track that offered plenty of grip away from the tapes it was still a welcome return to form for Ipswich after big defeats against Poole and Reading last week.

The return is at Monmore Green on Monday and Ipswich will hold hopes of collecting the aggregate bonus point at least if they show this commitment.

The Witches roared into a 5-1 from the tapes in heat one, but David Howe passed Kim Jansson on the inside coming out of the fourth bend. Shields took the chequered flag in style.

Tobi Kroner won heat two after a strong second bend pass on Magnus Karlsson with Zibi Suchecki close to gaining second place from the Swede on the final circuit.

After former world champion and stand-in skipper Billy Hamill had won race three from the tapes, Freddie Lindgren repeated the feat for the visitors - flying away from the outside gate in race four.

Ipswich filled the minor places in both heats to maintain their lead, but their advantage evaporated in heat five when the fast-gating Howe was followed by Hamill.

It was Marcin Rempala who set about chasing the Wolves pair, but he over-cooked on the third bend of the third lap and went sliding under the air fence.

Heat seven was a cracker with Eastbourne's Australian Shields sitting in behind Jansson and determined to fight off Lindgren. Twice the Wolves rider got beyond Shields and twice the Witches' guest held him off with Lindgren left with nowhere to go on the first turn of the final circuit when he looked capable of going on to take the chequered flag.

Lindgren had to slow, leaving him with no alternative than to accept third place in a memorable race. The Witches quickly built on this determined show with Robert Miskowiak and Suchecki making the best starts to clinch a second successive home 5-1. Hamill, after two impressive victories, trailed in last.

Howe has not always fared well at Foxhall Stadium although he is never slow in taking bookings at the Suffolk circuit. However, he was on form last night and won heat eight by some distance ahead of the battling Jansson and Kroner.

Louis' only programmed ride where he didn't meet Hamill saw him scorch away from gate four to win his first race for four meetings. Rempala came last but showed signs that he is slowly getting to grips with British speedway.

Shields kept on course for a paid maximum when he won heat ten after screeching around the outside of Hamill as the riders went round the second bend.

A 4-2 to the home side increased their lead to ten points and meant that the in-form Howe could ride for double points in race 11. Suchecki took a nasty tumble when the Wolves were in a 5-1 position on the first lap injuring his shoulder.

In the re-run, Miskowiak pulled out the stops from the inside gate to hold off the visiting pair on the first two turns and win well. Lindgren slowed on the final lap to allow Howe to finish second and have his points doubled to four, as technically he finished ahead of Suchecki.

Louis got the better of Hamill in heat 12 after making the best start. The American went beyond the home captain down the back straight, but Louis made a brave pass round the fourth bend to take the chequered flag.

A 5-1 from the gate for Howe and Lindgren ensured a nervous end for Ipswich supporters, with Wolves pulling to within four points in an enthralling contest.

Suchecki was ruled out of the penultimate race for medical reasons after his spill, but Rempala went beyond Karlsson on the fourth bend to grab first place and boost his confidence.

Kroner passed Karlsson on the following circuit to earn Ipswich a match-winning 5-1. In the final heat, Lindgren made the best start with Louis getting the better of Howe on the first lap and Shields sliding off before re-mounting and then retiring.