Author Archives: Henry Chard

About Henry Chard

Digital Media Manager at Ipswich Speedway

RACEDAY REVIEW: BRITISH FINAL

By Henry Chard

THE SCORES…

1st Rory Schlein 2nd Richard Lawson 3rd Jason Crump

Qualifying scores: Rory Schlein 12, Richard Lawson 11, Richie Worrall 11, Jason Crump 11, Chris Harris 10, Steve Worrall 10, Drew Kemp 8, Danny King 8, Ben Barker 8, Lewis Kerr 7, Paul Starke 7, Josh Auty 5, Tom Brennan 5, Dan Thompson 3, Josh Bates 2, Joe Thompson 2, Ben Woodhull (res) 0.

Semi-final: Crump, S. Worrall, Harris, R. Worrall

Final: Schlein, Lawson, Crump, S. Worrall

REFEREE: Graham Flint

VENUE: National Speedway Stadium

WHAT HAPPENED?

Ipswich ‘Tru Plant’ Witches rider Jason Crump finished third in the 2020 British Final at the National Speedway Stadium on Monday.

Crump finished on 11 points after 20 qualifying heats but progressed to the final after winning the semi-final. However, he couldn’t stop fellow Australian Rory Schlein from becoming the first overseas winner of the event since Ivan Mauger in 1972. Witches duo Drew Kemp and Danny King both scored eight points in qualifying just missing out on the semi-final.

Former Witches man Chris Harris suffered machinery problems before heat one even started with two bikes letting him down and he missed the two-minute time allowance before being replaced by reserve Ben Woodhull. Lewis Kerr won from the gate in the wet conditions with Witches skipper King tucked in behind for second and Kemp picking up a point in third. Crump was out in heat three as the drizzle continued to fall in Manchester and he picked up two points after finishing behind race winner Richard Lawson.

Crump produced a majestic ride to win heat five as he was the first man to venture out into the wetter outside line and it worked a treat for the Australian as he gathered the pace to pass Ben Barker on the second lap and win in convincing fashion. Kemp followed Crump’s lead in heat six as he built up speed on the back straight of the opening lap to round Dan Thompson on the fourth turn and he went on and won by some distance. King was out in heat seven and he picked up another two points behind Lawson who continued his perfect start.

A smart move from Kemp in the first turn enabled him to pick up a point in heat 10 as he nipped up the inside of Tom Brennan to take third as Steve Worrall won ahead of Paul Starke. Crump produced another fantastic ride to win heat 11 as he worked his way past Josh Bates and Dan Thompson on the opening lap having been pushed out wide in the opening turn with King finishing at the back.

Kemp continued his impressive night with a race win in heat 14 as he flew from the gate one to beat Barker, Lawson and Bates, becoming the first man to beat Lawson in the process. King finished third in heat 15 behind Steve Worrall and Schlein, which all but ended his chances of lifting the trophy for the second time in his career. Crump made the gate in heat 16 but was passed by both Harris and Josh Auty, meaning he had to settle for a point.

Schlein got the better of Crump on the opening lap of heat 18 to win and seal his place in the final, with Kemp at the back, meaning the youngster would just miss out on a place in the semi-final. King won heat 19 with ease from the gate but it wasn’t enough to secure himself a place in the semi-final either.

Crump booked his place in the final as he won the semi-final comfortably from the gate but there was drama behind him as Richie Worrall fell on the final turn whilst in second, allowing his brother Steve through to join Crump in the final.

Schlein won the final with relative ease ahead of Lawson as Crump claimed a spot on the rostrum.

BRITISH FINAL DELAYED & MOVED TO BELLE VUE

Speedway bosses have taken the decision to move the British Final to Monday 28th September and it will now take place at the National Speedway Stadium in Manchester.

The event was due to take place at Foxhall Stadium on Saturday 26th September, but Ipswich ‘Tru Plant’ Witches promoter Chris Louis has revealed how he cannot guarantee the Foxhall track will be ready after rain for the last three days and more forecast throughout Saturday.

And following the huge success of Belle Vue’s streamed event on Thursday night, the Aces have stepped forward to host the showpiece meeting on Monday night.

British Speedway Promoters Ltd vice chairman Damien Bates said: “It’s extremely disappointing for Chris and Ipswich as a club to miss out on the meeting, it’s been a stressful and time-consuming exercise for him to put this on.

“As a board we are all agreed on putting this event on. Everything that has been against us will be overcome. We are taking a financial risk with no fans and we wanted to give the meeting the very best chance to go ahead. We thank Belle Vue for their co-operation and support.”

Chris Louis added: “Everything has been against us and the weather was the final nail. It’s a showpiece event with an online audience and we want it to be spot on.

“By moving to Belle Vue on Monday with a good weather forecast this gives us that opportunity. It’s a great disappointment for Ipswich Speedway but we are right behind the event and want it to be a big success in these testing times.”

Monday’s British Final is available to be streamed live at sportcentral.tv for £12.95 and the official programme is available from curtis-sport.com for £5.

2020 BRITISH FINAL: RACEDAY PREVIEW

By Henry Chard

WHEN AND WHERE

The 2020 British Final takes place behind closed doors at the National Speedway Stadium on Monday 28th September, starting at 7.30pm, available to watch live via Sport Central. Stream tickets are priced at £12.95 with registration and email verification required before purchase.

THE LINE-UP…

1. Lewis Kerr 2. Drew Kemp 3. Danny King 4. Chris Harris 5. Steve Worrall 6. Josh Auty 7. Richie Worrall 8. Josh Bates 9. Jason Crump 10. Joe Thompson 11. Richard Lawson 12. Tom Brennan 13. Ben Barker 14. Dan Thompson 15. Paul Starke 16. Rory Schlein.

REFEREE: Graham Flint

VENUE: National Speedway Stadium

TICKET OFFICE

Due to the government’s latest announcement on Tuesday, this event will take place behind closed doors. No supporters will be allowed to enter the stadium. Those supporters who purchased tickets will be issued refunds automatically. Official programmes are priced at £5 and can still be purchased here.

WHAT’S THE STORY?

The Ipswich ‘Tru Plant’ Witches are represented at Monday’s British Final by club captain Danny King, Jason Crump and Drew Kemp. The government announced that it would be used as one of the sporting events used to pilot the safe return of spectators to elite sport back in early August, with Foxhall originally selected as the venue due to its experience in hosting events with spectators during the pandemic. There have been many bumps in the road in the build-up to the event with the government cutting the spectator numbers to 1,000 after tickets had already gone on sale. Just days before the event, it was announced that plans for fans to return to watch live sports events in England would not go ahead and the pilot programme would be paused, meaning that the 1,000 supporters would no longer be able to attend. Then on Friday 25th September, one day before the event was due to take place, speedway bosses took the decision to move the event to Monday 28th September at the National Speedway Stadium with Witches promoter Chris Louis unable to guarantee the Foxhall track would be ready after heavy rain during the week in Ipswich and more forecast throughout Saturday. Now, after all of that, all eyes turn to the action on the track.

Club captain King will be hoping to lift the title for a second time in his career having become British champion in 2016 at the National Speedway Stadium. The skipper finished second at the same venue last season and will be keen to go one better this time around. Perhaps the biggest news ahead of the event was the announcement that Crump would take his place in the line-up after he was handed a wildcard by the British Speedway Promoters Ltd. Born in Bristol, Crump has represented Australia during his professional career and fans all over the world will be keen to see how the three-time world champion fares in his first official competitive outing in Britain since he announced his retirement in 2012. The third Witch going for the title is youngster Kemp and he goes into the event in high spirits having retained his British Under-19 title at Scunthorpe recently. Kemp has been on the bike more than most in 2020, having ridden for Great Britain Under 21s and in the European Under-19 Championship amongst other events. It will be his first taste of the British Final, but he will be relishing the experience.

There are some notable names missing from this year’s line-up with no Tai Woffinden, Robert Lambert, Craig Cook, Charles Wright, Dan Bewley or Scott Nicholls with Adam Ellis out injured. Amongst the field are former Witches riders Chris Harris, Richard Lawson, Rory Schlein, Lewis Kerr, Ben Barker and Richie Worrall who will all have ambitions of becoming British number one. We wish all three ‘Tru Plant’ Witches the best and hope that the trophy is brought back to Foxhall once again.

FROM THE MANAGER

‘Tru Plant’ Witches team manager Ritchie Hawkins looks ahead to Monday’s event…

“I’m really looking forward to the final. I believe the meeting should be a cracker. The lack of racing the riders have had really evens things up but the boys will get a practice beforehand if they want it. It will be very open which will make it an exciting meeting. Hopefully it will be well worth it for those watching on the stream.

“Danny is a former champion and came second last year’s final after topping the scores in qualifying. This meeting is wide open, and it is all on the day, but he will have high aspirations of getting that title back and he will feel he has a great opportunity to do that.

“Jason is still an unknown, with it being his first competitive meeting back, that is going to be very interesting to see how he gets on and I’m sure he will improve as the meeting goes on. It opens up a different angle to the meeting and it is something for everyone to look forward to as we see how he gets on.

“Drew is one of the few guys that has been racing and he has been abroad getting some meetings in and still making the most of this year where he could. Drew is more than capable of doing very well in the British Final but a lot of it will come down to what sort of pressure he puts on himself with it being his first senior British Final. Realistically he couldn’t have had a better chance to make his debut this year, as it will be the least pressure you could possibly have. Hopefully he sees that as a positive and makes the most of it. There is a chance he could put too much pressure on himself, but it is a great opportunity for Drew, he could potentially do very very well but that will be down to how his mindset is, I guess.

THE CONTENDERS…

With some of Britain’s biggest names missing and with most of the field having barely turned a wheel in 2020, the competition is wide open. There is no form to judge heading into the event, so it is anyone’s guess who could walk away with the historic trophy. Ipswich captain King finished second in Manchester last year and will fancy his chances again this year. Australians Rory Schlein and Crump will be hoping to be the first overseas winner of the event since Ivan Mauger in 1972. Three-time British champion Chris Harris finished fourth last year in Manchester and Belle Vue rider Steve Worrall will be hard to beat on his home track. Add into the mix Lewis Kerr who scored well at last Thursday’s challenge match at Belle Vue and you will be no nearer to picking a favourite!

NATIONAL SPEEDWAY STADIUM

The National Speedway Stadium track measures at 347 metres with the track record belonging to Dan Bewley who set a time of 58.18 in August of 2019. For more information about the stadium head to Belle Vue’s official website.

KING RARING TO GO

By Henry Chard

Ipswich ‘Tru Plant’ Witches captain Danny King is hoping to win the British Final for the second time in his career at his home track on Saturday 26th September.

The skipper, who like most has not raced competitively since March, managed to get some practice laps in at Foxhall this week as well as Thursday night’s challenge match at Belle Vue ahead of the showpiece event on Saturday.

“Speedway wise, we are ready to go,” said King. “The bikes have been ready since press day and I did have a spin with Poole at Leicester when we were hopeful that the season was going to start in August. Obviously since then nothing has happened, so I have been off the bike 2-3 months I suppose until this week. We’ve been rushing around trying to get some practice in which hasn’t been easy with these local lockdowns but we will be ready and raring to go.”

King won the title in 2016 at the National Speedway Stadium and is hoping that he comes out on top again in the different circumstances.

“It is tricky, everyone is in the same boat. It is not normal circumstances but then it is not normal for anyone. I will go there prepared the best I can be as always and hopefully it will be my night. This is speedway though and anything can happen certainly when you haven’t done much riding.”

The 34-year-old is pleased that the meeting is being held at Foxhall but does not think he will benefit from home track advantage on this occasion.

“It’s brilliant for Ipswich Speedway as a club and even Ipswich as a town, it is great. For me, it is a bit more pressure, people are expecting me to do well. As I say, I am not going to have much advantage because I have not ridden, like everyone else. It is not like I have been doing more laps than anyone else around there, not this year anyway!”

King, like everyone in the world, has had to adapt to the ‘new normal’ that we live in and has been working for one of his sponsors in the absence of a speedway season in Britain.

“It’s been a very tough year for everyone and that includes myself. At the start I was off with the children with my wife being a key worker worked the whole way through. That was difficult but it was fine and now we are at a stage where both boys are back to school which is great and the wife is back to school and that has freed me up to do some work which is nice. I am currently doing some work with one of my sponsors and I am just trying to keep out of trouble and keep my head above water really.”

Live stream available here. (£12.95)
Programme available here. (£5)

KEMP: A GREAT OPPURTUNITY

By Henry Chard

Ipswich ‘Tru Plant’ Witches rider Drew Kemp says riding in Saturday’s British Final at Foxhall Stadium will be a great learning experience.

Kemp was handed his Premiership opportunity with his hometown club in 2020 but, like everyone in the speedway world, has been left frustrated at not being able to get out on track in Britain. However, the 18-year-old has been riding more than most in recent weeks.

“It has been a tricky season for everyone, especially for me,” said Kemp. “It was going to be a big year for me, being my first year in the Premiership for Ipswich. I’ve just been doing a lot of European meetings really; they haven’t gone as well as I expected of myself to be honest but there are still positives to take away. It’s important to look at meetings like those in that way, because it’s a long way home and it can also get you down, so I’m trying not to do that.”

The Great Britain Under-21 rider rides in his first senior British Final and admits it will be a tough meeting but sees it as a chance to learn.

“I’m looking forward to racing at the British final especially as it’s at Ipswich. It’ll be the first opportunity for us all to really race on the tracks that we will be racing on next year, so it’ll show what I need to work on for next year. It’ll be tough but a great opportunity to learn from some of the best in the UK and who knows what can happen!”

The British Under-19 champion believes he may have a slight advantage with race-sharpness and says he has continued to prepare as normal despite what has been going on in the world this year.

“I’ve been racing a lot more this year than anyone so you could almost say I have a slight advantage with race-sharpness, so that may come in to play. I’ve not stopped preparing anyway, I’ve just carried on what I’m doing. I think that’s the best way so then everything is the same. I know what’s happing then and it helps me mentally.”

Kemp has had plenty of laps at Foxhall over the years and is hoping that the event runs successfully ahead of the 2021 season.

“I suppose with it being at Ipswich, it could be a good thing as I know the set-ups. Although I’ve only been out on the track once this year it’s once more than most people apart from Danny (King) and Jason (Crump).

“It’s great for the club and shows that a different track can hold the British final. It’s a tricky track so it’ll definitely even things out and show who the true best riders are, and the most skilled, we will see. I’m looking forward to it and seeing everyone back there. Hopefully it’s a sign of good things to come and next year we can finally get the season going that we’ve all been eager for!”

Live stream available here. (£12.95)
Programme available here. (£5)

WATCH THE BRITISH FINAL FROM HOME

The 2020 British Final being held at the National Speedway Stadium on Monday 28th September will be available to watch to supporters from home via a new streaming service.

With the event being held behind closed doors, fans can enjoy the action thanks to a top quality live stream courtesy of Sport Central who have vast experience in streaming ice hockey at the top level. Commentary will be provided by the experienced Dave Rowe and Ipswich ‘Tru Plant’ Witches promoter Chris Louis.

Stream tickets are available from sportcentral.tv and cost £12.95 with the first race at 7.30pm. The stream will go live at 6.30pm. Registration and email verification will be required before purchase.

In addition, a limited edition official programme with 56-pages and in-depth human interest interviews, statistics, history and a racecard is also on sale for fans to order and have delivered to their home.

British Speedway Chairman Rob Godfrey said: “It’s more vital than ever for fans to support this event without actually being there.

“We have worked tirelessly to put this event on, in particularly Chris Louis at Ipswich, and it’s been hit by one setback after another.

“We are determined to stage the British Final and we need to see a good response to live stream orders as well as the programme. This is the next best thing to being there!

“Right now we feel drained, but we will regroup and look forward to Monday with great excitement and enthusiasm. It’s a bold decision to go behind closed doors but let’s do it!”

Live stream available here. (£12.95)
Programme available here. (£5)

HAWKINS: LONGEST DAY GOLF CHALLENGE FOR A WORTHY CAUSE

Ipswich ‘Tru Plant’ Witches team manager Ritchie Hawkins as well as riders Danny King and Cameron Heeps are preparing to tackle the Longest Day Golf Challenge on Monday 5th October as they aim to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support.

The trio will be joined by East Anglian Daily Times writer and Foxhall regular Mike Bacon on their challenge at Fynn Valley Golf Club as they take on 72 holes in one day and Hawkins says that it was Heeps’ plan to get out on the course for charity.

“This has all come about due to Cam, it was his idea,” said Hawkins. “He wanted to do something, and people know we like a round a golf, maybe not four in a day though! It is a really worthy cause and if you can do anything for charity then you should go out and do it and Cam has roped us all in with it!”

The boss says that the team will be pushed for time to fit all four rounds in and will certainly be feeling the after-effects the following day.

“It is late notice; we have only had a few weeks to raise some money and we are going to be fighting the light all day. Ideally, we would have done it a few months ago but with the year we have had and with what has been going on that wasn’t possible. We will make the best of what we can do and hopefully we will get 12-13 hours of light and there will be no hanging about!

“It is certainly going to be hard work and we will have to get through it really quickly. We could be walking up to 20 miles in the day and that will be a big challenge on some of our bodies. I have broken most parts of my body at some point and I ache a bit after one round of golf so after four I am sure I will feel it the next day and the boys are the same. We will certainly get through it.”

The former skipper is hoping to raise as much money as possible and thanked Fynn Valley Golf Club for their help in organising the challenge.

“We know it is a tough time for everybody to be asking them for money to donate but if anyone can spare any money it is greatly appreciated, and it is going to a good cause. Hopefully we can raise as much money as possible and personally it would be nice to reach £1000. Everything will be a great benefit to the charity.

“Thank you to Fynn Valley Golf Club, Cam and Mike are members there and they approached Fynn Valley with the idea of doing it and they couldn’t have been more willing to help us and really wanted us there to do it, so a massive thank you to them as well.”

You can donate to The Boom Song Ping Pongs’ cause here. All the best, boys!

BRITISH FINAL BEHIND CLOSED DOORS

The British Final being held at Foxhall Stadium on Saturday 26th September will go ahead but sadly without fans in attendance.

The meeting will now be held behind closed doors as a consequence of the Prime Minister’s Tuesday update imposing significant new Covid-19 restrictions on the country.

Our information is that the remaining pilot schemes to bring fans back into stadiums for elite sport in restricted numbers have been suspended, as have plans for a more general return in bigger numbers in October.

We recognise the disappointment this will cause to those supporters who purchased tickets for the event, but the situation is totally out of the control of the British Speedway Promoters Ltd, along with Witches promoter Chris Louis who has done everything possible to get this event to take place as planned.

Fans can still watch the meeting thanks to the live stream, with details of how to purchase stream tickets available here.

Chairman Rob Godfrey said: “It’s a hammer blow for the sport, and I particularly feel for Chris and his staff at Foxhall.

“He’s been burning the midnight oil to plan everything starting with 2,200 supporters, then down to 1,000, and now it’s zero through something not of our doing and now he will be contacting people to arrange refunds.

“However, we’ve been determined to provide the British Final to our public, so the meeting will go ahead, and what we can still achieve is for us to use it as our own test case in terms of the demand for live streaming for speedway events going forward.

“All supporters who were due to attend will be contacted in the coming days regarding a refund of their £20, and I would urge them wherever possible to re-invest £12.95 of that to purchase the live stream.

“We must stress that this will be a high-quality stream with professional camera operators, graphics and commentary, and we have brought in people who have great experience in the field of live-streaming ice hockey matches.

“I’d also remind everyone that the official programme is still being produced and will be sent out in advance of the event. I’ve seen a proof and it is a fantastic read with several human-interest features, plus the racecard of course.

“It will be a real collectors’ item especially in such an unusual year, so again I would urge people to order a copy.

“I can’t over-emphasise how much of a financial gamble we are taking by going ahead with this, and now we do need people to support it in as many numbers as possible.

“The riders are all keen to go ahead with the meeting, they have all been making their preparations, and this now requires a united effort from everyone who loves the sport to make it a success.”

Fans can purchase live stream tickets here (£12.95) and purchase the meeting programme here (£5).

BRITISH FINAL – SUPPORTER INFORMATION

Please note the following important information ahead of the British Final at Foxhall Stadium on Saturday 26th September.

You must bring both your PayPal receipt and your BSP LTD confirmation email. If you don’t not have both of these please contact ticketoffice@speedwaygb.co.uk immediately.

Only the number of persons on the confirmation email will be admitted to the stadium. If children were not included in your booking they will not gain entry. This is a strict COVID-19 policy due to the restricted numbers. 

Please do not come in a group of over six people and once on site do not meet up with anyone to increase your numbers to over six people.

Do not attend if you feel unwell, or you live with someone who feels unwell, and have had symptoms in the 14 days prior to the event.

Please maintain two metres distance from anyone who is not part of your ‘bubble’.

Please sanitise your hands before entry and use the sanitisers around the stadium.

The use of face coverings is mandatory and they must be worn before entering the stadium. If you are exempt from wearing a face covering please let our staff know. Children 11 and under are exempt from wearing face coverings.

Please download the NHS COVID-19 App from the App Store or Google Play and scan our QR Code at the turnstiles.

ISSC FACE MASKS ON SALE

The Ipswich Speedway Supporters Club have launched a range of face masks which are available to purchase now. All profit is for the benefit of the ‘Save Our Speedway’ account. The masks cost £3 plus £1 for post and packaging. For all the details on how to purchase, click here.

Please note, due to Covid-19 restrictions these will not be available to purchase at the British Final at Foxhall Stadium on Saturday 26th September.