Witches name sixth rider
CHRIS Slabon has today been named as the sixth certain starter for Ipswich Evening Star Witches in this year's Sky Sports Elite Speedway League.But it is looking increasingly unlikely that Witches legend Chris Louis will be in the team.
By Elvin King
CHRIS Slabon has today been named as the sixth certain starter for Ipswich Evening Star Witches in this year's Sky Sports Elite Speedway League.
But it is looking increasingly unlikely that Witches legend Chris Louis will be in the team.
Last week's promoters' meeting agreed a combined team average limit of 46 points – and this enabled Witches promoter John Louis to move fast and confirm Slabon's place.
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The Pole is now too old for Under-21 meetings and there will be less disruption to his Ipswich availability. He is already an Ipswich asset and created a big impression with fans at Foxhall Stadium last year.
Slabon, who rides under a Canadian licence having spent his formative years there, comes into the Witches team on a 5.85 average.
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This leaves 6.18 to play with, and Ipswich have talked to Czech Republic star Ales Dryml (5.61), and made enquiries about Swedes Freddie Eriksson (5.52) and Daniel Nermark (5.90).
Dryml rode for Oxford for the last two seasons, while Eriksson was a popular member of the King's Lynn side and rides Foxhall well.
Nermark rode for champions Wolverhampton last season, until he broke his thigh riding at Oxford in June.
Long-standing skipper Louis has not been forgotten, but the rider who damaged his back riding in Sweden last April is by no means certain to be fit for the start of the season.
Louis said today: "Following last week's promoters' meeting, as far as I know I am in the Ipswich one to seven. This is if I am fit, and I have to admit I am not so confident now as I was last autumn.
"If I don't make it for March then I hope to ride at some stage in 2003." Louis has been an Ipswich regular since 1989.
Witches director Magda Louis said: "It could well be a last minute decision with Chris. We are waiting for his fitness clearance.
"Chris Slabon is very keen to stay with us and with his Wroclaw side much stronger this year, he may miss out on Polish club rides some weekends."
Tom P Madsen has been announced as a floater who will cover for Shane Parker at Premier League new boys King's Lynn when the Australian's Elite League club Peterborough are riding.
Floaters are available this year for riders other than reserves, and Mrs Louis added: "Ipswich meetings will come first for Tom.
"We are talking to Sheffield's Simon Stead and Arena Essex's Leigh Lanham about sharing floater duties with Danny Bird at the bottom end of our side."
Ipswich's side in the Elite League for 2003 will be: Scott Nicholls, Jarek Hampel, Paul Hurry, Chris Slabon, Tom P Madsen, Danny Bird plus one other.
Nigel Wagstaff is the new promoter of Oxford and will keep them in the Elite League, making it eight clubs – one down on last year. The former Lynn chief has taken over the Cowley licence from Steve Purchase, who has stood aside after five years at the helm.
Meanwhile, Keith Chapman will lead Lynn into the Premier League. The Norfolk Arena landlord, who previously ran the club in the nineties, has confirmed the signings of Parker, Tomas Topinka and Davey Watt.
Laurence Rogers is the new co-promoter at Lynn after leaving Somerset to take on a role that includes team manager.
n JAMES Brundle, who will be riding in the British League Cup for Ipswich, has signed for the indoor ice speedway meeting in Telford on February 16.
The 16-year-old becomes the youngest-ever to race in the indoor ice international.