Witches slump to defeat at Peterborough

IPSWICH Evening Star Witches slumped to 46-28 defeat against Peterborough Panthers at a wet East of England Showground last night. In a 12-heat meeting, run in continuous drizzle, the Suffolk side put up a decent fight against a Panthers team notoriously strong on their home track.

By Mike Bacon

IPSWICH Evening Star Witches slumped to 46-28 defeat against Peterborough Panthers at a wet East of England Showground last night.

In a 12-heat meeting, run in continuous drizzle, the Suffolk side put up a decent fight against a Panthers team notoriously strong on their home track.

The Witches were well served by Robert Miskowiak and Kim Jansson, but in fairness, all the visitors did well with skipper Chris Louis particularly unlucky after suffering some rough treatment from the Peterborough riders in two of his three races.

The Witches drafted in Belle Vue's Simon Stead as a guest replacement for Mark Loram and after a subdued ride on his second bike in heat one after his first one failed to start, he finished strongly to come second and first in his other two rides.

Although the Witches were never likely to win this encounter, they never threw in the towel.

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The visitors only recorded two heat wins, however, through Stead and Miskowiak, and Kim Jansson gained four points in a tactical ride in heat eight.

The Witches never led as Hans Andersen got the home side off to a flying start in the first race from the outside, with Stead's second machine looking way off the pace.

Peterborough romped to a comfortable maximum in the next as they took an early six-point lead, which could have been an ominous sign.

Louis made a terrific start off the inside in heat three and was leading all the way before Niels Kristian Iversen roared underneath the Witches' skipper on the third and fourth lap of heat two, leaving Louis with nowhere to go as Piotr Swiderski also came through.

The Witches were already ten points down and Kenneth Bjerre passed Tobi Kroner down the back straight in heat four before a dramatic next heat saw Jansson do well to stay on his machine after Swiderski ran into the back of him on turn three.

Miskowiak was looking fast and he made a lightning start to lead Andersen down the back straight in heat six.

Andersen slowed up and Marcin Rempala almost ran into the back of Andersen on turn three before the Dane got going again, only to retire before the end of the heat.

Again Louis was on the receiving end of some rough stuff in heat seven after Bjerre almost squared up and ran into him going into the first turn.

However, the race was allowed to continue with Zibi Suchecki roaring past Danny King down the back straight to split the home pairing.

Witches' team manager, Mike Smillie, gave Jansson a tactical ride in heat eight, but after a crowded first and second turn, the Ipswich man could only battle through to second and with his points counting double it looked like a share of the heat.

However, the away side got lucky with Lukas Dryml grinding to a halt on the final bend as Kroner nipped through on the line and Ipswich gained their second heat advantage of the night.

Considering the conditions - with the rain now coming down even harder - heat nine was an absolute cracker by anyone's standards.

Swiderski shot away from the start leaving Miskowiak and Iversen to fight for second place in hair-raising fashion on the tricky surface.At one stage their bikes clashed as the Ipswich man appeared to cut across Iversen and then the pair rode side by side for two more thrilling laps with Miskowiak, on the outside, getting the nod.

The heat times were now eight seconds slower than the track record and although Stead won heat 11, the Panthers finished strongly with maximums in heats ten and 12 before the referee and captains sensibly called an end to the meeting.

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