Witches win last heat thriller

BOTTOM-of-the-table Coventry Bees pushed Ipswich Evening Star Witches to the limit at Foxhall Stadium last night.

Elvin King

BOTTOM-of-the-table Coventry Bees pushed Ipswich Evening Star Witches to the limit at Foxhall Stadium last night.

It needed a 5-1 in an absorbing final race to confirm two Elite League points for the home side.

It was only the second Thursday meeting on the heath since May 22 and the contest between old adversities was well worth waiting for.

Ipswich suffered from having Robert Miskowiak and Steve Johnston below their best in a meeting that looked decided until a tactical ride win by Chris Harris in heat 11 brought the Bees back into contention.

Tobi Kroner was back to his best back in his favoured reserve berth and along with the impressive and geared-up Jarek Hampel and Piotr Swiderski did enough to see the Witches home.

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Chris Schramm played his part in a meeting that had fans leaving the heath with an extra spring in their step after a wonderful night's entertainment.

Rider replacement for Chris Louis accrued a paid seven points for Ipswich, while Coventry gained four points for the use of the same facility for the injured Billy Janniro.

There was a minute's silence - impeccably observed - for Joe Thurley who died last weekend. He was the man who re-started speedway at Foxhall with John Berry in the Sixties.

Heat one was lining up to be a tasty affair with Swiderski losing control on the second bend and a circuit later Miskowiak came to grief when trying to re-pass Chris Harris. The Bees were in a 5-1 position, and in the re-run they repeated this with Harris ensuring the outside-gating Swiderski was pushed wide going into the first turn.

Ipswich levelled in the next race despite Chris Schramm having problems when his goggles got filled with water and he angrily discarded them on the second lap to allow him to see. Tobi Kroner kept up his record of winning every reserve race he has taken part in at Foxhall this year.

Jarek Hampel won heat three to put the Witches into the lead - with Steve Johnston negotiating the race despite having a broken seat.

After the visitors had levelled things up in heat four, the following race was the best of the night when Harris chased Hampel for all he was worth and just missed out as they both went full throttle for the finishing line.

Swiderski re-found his early season form when he burst inside Rory Schlein coming out of the second bend in heat six to put the home side back into the lead.

And there was more good news for Ipswich in the following race when Kroner made a superb start and turned round on the back straight to see team-mate Miskowiak neatly tucked in behind him for a timely 5-1.

Coventry reserve Burza was withdrawn from the meeting on medical grounds before Swinderski proved far too good for the second strings and reserves in heat eight.

Hampel had to concede second place to Schlein in race nine and then Kroner took smooth advantage of a slip by Olly Allen on the third lap of heat 10 to see Ipswich grab their third 5-1 of the night.

Harris wore the black and white helmet colour in the next and although he was out-gated by Kroner he showed his undoubted pedigree when he had the power and the skill to take a 7-2 for the visitors.

Hampel's victory in heat 12, with Schramm in third place, put the Witches nine points ahead when Schlein and Harris proved too good for Swiderski and Miskowiak.

A drawn heat in the penultimate race would effectively win the points for Ipswich, but a 4-2 to Coventry saw the home lead reduced to just three points, and it was nerve-tingling stuff, but it all ended in smiles with Swiderski and Hampel making fantastic gates to inflict a telling 5-1 on the Bees and confirm a hard-fought and spectacular home win.

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