Witches trail by just one point

IPSWICH trail Eastbourne by just one point after the first leg of their Craven Shield group meeting at Wolverhamp-ton last night. After making the early running they were pegged back by the Eagles, who then went on to win the meeting.

IPSWICH trail Eastbourne by just one point after the first leg of their Craven Shield group meeting at Wolverhamp-ton last night.

After making the early running they were pegged back by the Eagles, who then went on to win the meeting. Fans who attended this three-team tournament could be forgiven for thinking there were more teams taking part, with the Witches using two of Oxford's riders in their side.

Wolves' assets Adam Skornicki and David Howe guested for the injured Chris Louis and Pole Piotr Protasiewicz, who is officially in dispute with the club. Protasiewicz told witches promoter John Louis he could not make the meeting - a situation the Witches consider unacceptable.

Louis is keen to make the final and extend his season and has already booked Coventry riders Chris Harris and former Witches favourite Scott Nicholls as guests for Thursday's meeting at Foxhall and also at Eastbourne on Saturday.

The Witches led last night's meeting by seven points, by the halfway stage, but then a heavy shower arrived to

saturate the track and this seemed to take the advantage away from the Witches.

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The home side got off to a flyer with a maximum over the Eagles in the first race before Ipswich took to the track for their first race in the next.

It was the first meeting between former world champion Nicki Pedersen and Robert Miskowiak since the pair clashed at Foxhall recently, but there was no return of the anger that was displayed from Pedersen after he crashed on that occasion. Pedersen went wide coming off the second turn and both Witches were in front coming off the back straight, although it did not last long, with Pederson showing his style and going round the outside on the bottom bends.

Ipswich's guests teamed up for a 4-3 with Wolves in the third, Skornicki riding a brave second bend to get the better of former world champion Billy Hamill.

Eastbourne sprang to life with a maximum over the hosts in the fourth, after Lindgren over-cooked it on the final bend while challenging Kennett.

Heat five saw Danny King blast round the outside and off for victory in the fastest time of the night and, with Loram tucking in behind, a Witches 5-1 was scored, as the Witches went into the lead for the first time.

Pedersen won the seventh, before Loram took the chequered flag in the eighth, although he cracked a valve cap in the process.

The heavens opened as the riders sat at the tapes for heat nine, and when the tapes lifted it was Miskowiak who made one of his lightning starts to race off for victory over Hefenbrock.

Wolves scored a 4-2 over the Eagles when the racing resumed, and then the Sussex side enjoyed a maximum success over the Witches in the eleventh.

Loram had to jump on Jansson's bike when he suffered ignition problems on his own, ahead of heat 12.

He bought the Swede's machine home behind Wolves' star Freddy Lindgren in a share of the spoils.

Heat 13 saw Pedersen take the chequered flag and with Hamill suffering his second engine failure whilst second, it gifted the Eagles a 5-1 as the Sussex club got their noses in front by a point from the Witches.

The Eagles then went further ahead as Miskowiak crashed out of the 14th.

Heat 15 saw Loram, back on his own machine, race to victory, before a home side 5-1 over the Eagles tightened things up, with two races to go.

Pedersen completed an immaculate full house, with victory in the 17th, over Skornicki, as Eastbourne finished their rides with an unassailable 38 points on the night before Miskowiak and Jansson scored a 4-2 over Wolves to bring the Witches to within a point of the Eagles.

So the Witches go into Thursday's meeting in a good position, with every opportunity to pick up the baton ahead of Saturday's final leg at Eastbourne.

Witches' promoter John Louis claims he has no major gripe with Pole Protasiewicz after he could not make the Witches' match at Wolverhampton last night.

He said: “After Pepe told me he couldn't make it, I told him he just had to be there and when he refused it left us with no option but to field a side without him.

“If we are fortunate enough to qualify for the final and he can make it, then we will have to go to the authorities and see if we are allowed to bring him in.”

Mike Smillie, the Witches' team manager said: “This was a good close-run affair and we are in a good position to take the advantage at home on Thursday, although the hardest meeting is going to be ahead of us at Eastbourne on Saturday.

“We can't really say we were unlucky, as all the sides had a problem of one type or another.

“I spoke to the referee after David Howe had fallen in heat six to ask why she had not declared a false start and she declared as Howe had clashed with team-mate Skornicki, she would have had to have excluded him if she had stopped the race.”

Robert Miskowiak: “I am not feeling too bad after this meeting and I only dropped one point from my three completed races. I feel I was unlucky to be excluded when I fell as I believe Edward Kennett changed his line and effectively took my front wheel.

“I was left with my back wheel up against the fence around the first two corners and as we went down the back straight with Kennett up on my inside, he looked at me and then changed his line.”

Eastbourne promoter Jon Cook said: “It is between us and Ipswich now and hopefully we will be able to hang on to them at Ipswich on Thursday to make a match of it. We did well to come back from seven points down and can go on to qualify from here.”

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