Witches off to a flyer

IPSWICH Evening Star Witches led throughout as they got their Elite League season off to the best possible start with a hard-fought 51-42 victory at Oxford last night.

By Elvin King

IPSWICH Evening Star Witches led throughout as they got their Elite League season off to the best possible start with a hard-fought

51-42 victory at Oxford last night.

It was an impressive all-round display and by heat ten every Ipswich rider had been involved in a victory or a paid win.

The two reserves played their part to the full, and if they can keep up this form the bookies could soon be reducing the Witches title odds that are currently 12-1. Daniel King was paid for ten

excellent points and looked a very accomplished performer while his partner at the bottom end, Jan Jaros, continued to impress and included

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a race victory in his total of five points.

Only world champion and Witches asset Tony Rickardsson stood between the home side and a real thrashing.

Mark Loram suffered with machine problems and ended up as the lowest scorer. But the fact that his team-mates were able to cover for him and pull off a crucial victory bodes well for the rest of the year.

Chris Louis, back in the No. 1 Ipswich race jacket that his father wore so famously before junior took up the role, hit the ground hard in his first race when Eric Andersson rode into him.

Louis bruised his arm but not his determination and he got to his feet in fighting mood to lead his team to


Piotr Protasiewicz finished the meeting unbeaten in his final three heats which confirmed his appetite for the Ipswich cause while fellow Pole Robert Miskowiak improved as the match wore on and by the finish was gating as quickly as he did last season.

Ipswich caught the Cheetahs at the right time after losing challenge matches home and away to Swindon last week.

Andersson was excluded for riding into Louis in heat one, with Ipswich gaining a maximum success over

the struggling David Howe in the re-run.

Jaros and King stretched the lead to eight points in the following race before Oxford hit back when Adam Skornicki made the best start and Davey Watt passed Protasiewicz on the second lap of heat three.

Rickardsson won the next heat, a good second-and-a-half faster than the previous race, although Louis kept Ipswich on track with his second win of the night in heat five.

Loram changed bikes after a last place in his first outing to win heat six, with Jaros being passed by Howe on the final circuit and also Andersson. But the Ipswich man took advantage of an Andersson error on the final turn to move back into third place.

Miskowiak sailed beyond Adam Pietraszko on the second lap in a drawn heat seven before Ipswich's strength in depth showed with a 5-1 in hat eight.

Oxford hit back through the Watt-Skornicki pairing in the next heat, but Ipswich were not to be outdone and Protasiewicz and Miskowiak made mincemeat of the opposition in race ten.

Protasiewicz was in full flow and he roared round the outside on the first two bends to win race 12, but a 4-2 meant that Ipswich went ten points ahead and Rickardsson was able to ride for double points in heat 13.

With Loram seizing an engine at the start it was important that Louis kept Howe at the back of that heat, which is what he did.

A drawn heat in the penultimate race ensured an Ipswich win. Skornicki knocked King off in an attempt to come through from last position on the final bend and was rightly excluded.

The icing on the cake came when Rickardsson, who is to be replaced by Todd Wiltshire at the end of next month, was out-gated by Louis and Protasiewicz for Ipswich's fourth 5-1 of the meeting in the final heat.