Witches put up brave fight before losing

IPSWICH Witches put up a brave fight at Oxford's Cowley Stadium last night, only to again suffer in a last-heat decider and lose the meeting.Not for the first time this year did the Witches fail to come up with the goods at the business end of a meeting, with their top guns unable to hold their own against the opposition when it mattered.

IPSWICH Witches put up a brave fight at Oxford's Cowley Stadium last night, only to again suffer in a last-heat decider and lose the meeting.

Not for the first time this year did the Witches fail to come up with the goods at the business end of a meeting, with their top guns unable to hold their own against the opposition when it mattered.

On a clear evening both sides had battled away in a meeting that swung one way and then the other and going into the 13th race the visitors held a four-point advantage.

Pole Piotr Protasiewicz and Mark Loram lined up for the Witches against Todd Wiltshire and Adam Shields and it was the home pair who made the start to race away.

Protasiewicz and Loram were giving it everything, but neither could find the necessary speed, or in the case of Loram, the right lines to find a way past.

Protasiewicz was riding tighter and tighter lines, on each successive circuit around the fourth bend in an effort to get under Shields and a number of times he looked to have got up the inside of the Oxford guest rider.

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However, each time he allowed Shields back round on the straight, including on the run-in to the line after he had taken to the grass off the bend in one final effort.

That maximum advantage levelled the scores, before Robert Miskowiak, enjoying another fine meeting, raced

a tight first bend to take the 14th to set up a last-heat decider.

It was a difficult choice for the Witches' management for their riders for the nominated race and they decided on Miskowiak to partner Loram, perhaps taking into account that Protasiewicz and Loram had struggled for track

space against each other in heat 13.

For the Cheetahs, Wiltshire and Watt lined up at the tapes, with the former making one of his lightning starts to lead the way.

Loram was soon after him and there developed two battles, with Loram chasing Wiltshire for all he was worth and Miskowiak going after Watt.

However, with the conditions even slicker neither could gain the necessary advantage and a meeting that the Witches were in with a great chance of winning had slipped away.

The Cheetahs had got their evening off to a fine start in heat one with a maximum 5-1 heat advantage.

It was Protasiewicz who led away from the start, but both Cheetahs went past him, one either side, on the third and fourth bends to head off for an early advantage.

The Witches levelled in the next with home rider Eric Andersson hitting the fence coming out of the second bend on the outside of Danny King, with Toby Kroner then rounding Burza on the fourth bend.

The Witches got their noses in front in the third, after David Howe, who had made the early running suffered an engine failure with one lap to go.

The Suffolk side kept things going with their second 5-1 of the night in heat four, with Loram leading the way and King, in as a reserve replacement for Kroner, winning a first-lap battle with Shields to join him.

The home side hit back in the next with their own 5-1, Howe leading again and keeping his machinery going this time to take the win from team-mate Skornicki and a disappointing Protasiewicz.

Heat six saw the Cheetahs level with a 4-2 from Wiltshire and Watt over Loram and King.

Protasiewicz, in as rider replacement for Chris Louis, went high, wide and handsome round the first bend in the seventh, to race away for the win and with his countryman finishing third, Ipswich had their noses in front once more.

Watt won the next from Jansson in a share of the spoils, but all the action was at the back with Kroner leading Andersson until he lifted violently coming off the fourth bend.

Andersson raced through but the young German was not to be beaten, cutting back coming off the second turn to snatch a point to keep the Witches in front.

After Howe had won a point, another poor start from the Ipswich pair followed in the next, with the Cheetahs gaining a 5-1 to switch the meeting once more and take the advantage.

In the first race after the interval, the meeting swung again with Protasiewicz and Jansson scoring a fine maximum and then Miskowiak and King score a 4-2 in the 12th, to take the Witches four points to the good.

Then came that disappointing late collapse.

WITCHES skipper Chris Louis, currently injured with a broken collarbone, was in the Witches pits last night helping his team-mates.

He said: “It was a good team effort although we ran out of firepower yet again, although I guess it was a fair result considering we ran out of steam.”

Mark Loram said: “I had a couple of bad races tonight and was below my best and I am frustrated as anyone.

“I tried another engine tonight but it didn't work as I'd hoped and I was left playing catch up.

“I was trying everything in heat 13 but Pepe was also giving it his best and with the lines he was riding it was kind of messing up my run.”

Pole Robert Miskowiak, who had another good meeting, still ended up frustrated when he failed to come up with the goods in the nominated heat 15.

He said: “I guess I didn't do too bad tonight but I am so angry at my self for letting it slip in the last heat.

“I tried everything to pass Watt, I wanted desperately to get past him, to save the defeat but by then the track was so slick that I could not find the necessary drive.

“I was angry with myself and because I considered changing the sprocket to give me more drive, but decided to leave it how it was when I had won the race before and now obviously know that I should have changed.”

Swede Kim Jansson, who was paid for five points, said: “My engines were not really suited to these conditions as I couldn't get off the starts and that was so important here.”

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