Witches rule out Hampel comeback

JOHN Louis, the Ipswich Evening Star Witches promoter, today ruled out a return to Foxhall Stadium for top Polish rider Jarek Hampel.However, Louis is reasonably confident he will be able to bring in a suitable permanent replacement for injured number one Mark Loram.

By Elvin King

JOHN Louis, the Ipswich Evening Star Witches promoter, today ruled out a return to Foxhall Stadium for top Polish rider Jarek Hampel.

However, Louis is reasonably confident he will be able to bring in a suitable permanent replacement for injured number one Mark Loram.

“It will not be for a while,“ said Louis.

“From talks I had with riders during the winter I think we may be able to make a signing in late May or June.

“To be honest Jarek Hampel was approached during the close season to see if he would ride for us on a short term basis in the opening weeks of the season.

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“He took a while to make up his mind, but after considering the number of meetings he has this year in Poland, Sweden, Denmark and also in the Grand Prix series he declined.

“So I don't expect him to change his mind now.”

Hampel is an Ipswich asset, who would have fitted the bill short term.

Ipswich appear to have the facility to use every top rider in the country as a guest replacement for Loram apart from Jason Crump, Leigh Adams and Hans Andersen.

Louis says that he will sit down with team manager Mike Smillie and work on guests who can cover for the absence of Loram for the next two months.

Ipswich are riding in the Elite League at Poole on Wednesday and entertain Coventry at Foxhall Stadium the following night.

Louis expects Loram, who broke his left leg above the knee and also fractured his left arm in an horrific crash at Foxhall last Thursday, to be out for at least 12 months.

“When he is 100 per cent fit again he will decide what the future holds,” added Louis. “He will make his own mind up.”

The controversial new ruling to start lesser riders off the inside gates in the opening heats back-fired on Loram with Reading's second string Zdenek Simota cutting across to the outside and leaving the Ipswich man with nowhere to go as the riders sped out of the second bend of heat one.

“The rule change came from Sweden where they have wider circuits,” said Louis.

“Simota hit some dirt, picked up and shot out to his right.

“We have one of the best safety records in the sport and our wooden fence is collapsible with the panels held together by two-by-two posts that are capable of snapping on impact.

“This is what happened on Thursday. Mark's machine stopped abruptly and he could have suffered his injury when he made contact with his handlebars.”

Loram, 36, underwent a lengthy operation on Thursday night to pin his leg; with the surgeon happy with the outcome.

The rider has since been moved to a Norwich Hospital that specialises in skin grafts.

He is in reasonable spirits but frustrated that his season looks to be over before it had really begun.

Louis says that he was delighted to see the way his riders responded after Loram's crash.

“They took one ride to gel, and then almost did enough to win the meeting against all the odds.

“If a couple of decisions had gone our way a 47-43 reverse could have ended up as a narrow victory for us.”

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