Witches off to a flier

TWO maximum heat wins for a rampant Ipswich Evening Star Witches speedway team saw them start their Elite League campaign with a win at Belle Vue, Manchester last night.

By Elvin King

TWO maximum heat wins for a rampant Ipswich Evening Star Witches speedway team saw them start their Elite League campaign with a win at Belle Vue, Manchester last night.

And they extended their winning start to the campaign to four matches and sent out a signal to the rest of the teams in the league that they mean business with a 49-41 victory.

The miserable campaign that was 2003 failed to produce a single victory away from Foxhall Stadium yet this year the transformed team has already won at Peterborough in a challenge and now at Belle Vue where it really mattered.

While every Ipswich rider did his bit - even Daniel King was on the pace although failing to score - it was in the final four races that Ipswich really came of age.

They were six points down when Jesper B Jensen found the right balance in his machine to make the start and gain first place.

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And to make it even better for the visiting team young Swede Kim Jansson followed him home. Every other Witches man watched the race from the greyhound track with interest and punched the air as the riders crossed the line.

That team spirit was not in evidence last season when Ipswich finished rock bottom of the league, and it galvanised the riders for one last final push.

Hans Andersen, who had suffered a puncture when second on the second lap of heat 11, had no problems in heat 13 after Jason Crump had crashed on the first bend in the initial attempt to run the race.

Grand Prix favourite Crump received medical attention but appeared none the worse for wear and it was Anderson who made the best start in the re-run to give Ipswich another big boost.

Scott Nicholls, who played his part as usual, went beyond Joe Screen on the second lap as Ipswich pulled level.

It was all hands to the pump in the pits before the next race with Louis shepherding Jansson around the first corner and they both held on to their first and second places without too many alarms.

And a 5-1 in the final race was the icing on the cake with Belle Vue originally in a 5-1 position before Andersen took over the lead with Nicholls following suit by the end of the second lap.

Cheered on by their team-mates, and four Witches fans who had made the journey north, Nicholls and Anderson treated the crowd to some celebratory wheelies.

Credit must go to the hard-working mechanics in the Ipswich pits with Lee Dixon and Nick Bloom helping out a mixture of riders including Anderson, Jensen, Louis and Jansson. It was a team effort and one that bodes well for the rest of the season.

Up to heat seven Ipswich had only won one race yet were still level, which showed their all round ability and one on which they were able to build in the final part of the match to make their season look to be one of their most promising for some time.

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