Author Archives: Henry Chard

About Henry Chard

Digital Media Manager at Ipswich Speedway

NO BRAKES NO FEAR PODCAST LAUNCH

British Speedway is set to launch a brand new official podcast.

‘No Brakes, No Fear’ will be available across all podcast platforms from 8pm on Tuesday April 13 and will include British Speedway Promoters Ltd Chairman Rob Godfrey and Director Chris Louis. They will be giving an insight into the work behind the scenes in the bid to relaunch the sport with fans next month as well as providing their view of the Premiership and Championship. Hosted by BBC and commercial radio presenter Ian Brannan, the podcast is being produced by Nigel Pearson Media Ltd.

Said Brannan: “I’ve been a speedway fan for years and this is an exciting project for me. Nigel and I first had the idea during the first lockdown last summer and after putting the proposal towards the Board of Directors we have got approval.”

“We’ve got an exciting first episode with Rob and Chris, plus input from Wolverhampton and Edinburgh’s Sam Masters and Danish star Bjarne Pedersen who is riding for Peterborough and Plymouth this year. And when the season starts we will be reflecting on meetings with rider and management reaction as well as looking ahead to meetings coming up.

“We’ve teamed up with the Sports Social podcast network, the UK’s only podcast platform dedicated to sport.  They will help spread the speedway word to a wider audience and get more people to take a look at it on Eurosport and, ultimately, to head to a meeting in person and sample the sport for what it is.”

The podcast will be available on all platforms including Apple, Google and Spotify, plus you can ask your smart speaker to play the British Speedway podcast.

NEW MERCHANDISE AT TRACK SHOP

If you’re looking forward to the new season, take a look at the Ipswich Witches merchandise range online here. With new programme boards, mugs, window stickers, badges and more, there’s plenty to choose from to get yourself ready for the new campaign. Take a look at some of the new products below…

2021 RISING STAR…DREW KEMP

The Ipswich ‘Tru Plant’ Witches have signed club asset Drew Kemp as their ‘rising star’ for the 2021 Premiership season.

The new programme introduced this winter provides a clear pathway for young British riders and means that one rider in each Premiership team this season must be from the ‘rising star’ scheme with this increasing to two riders in each team from 2022. The riders involved in the scheme are given a 1 to 4 star rating based on the criteria (which can be found at the bottom of this article) before progressing to Pro Star status.

The 18-year-old was due to be part of the 2020 Witches side before the season was cancelled and it was an easy decision for the management to bring him back for the new campaign.

The signing of the two-times British Under-19 champion completes the 2021 Ipswich side as he takes his place alongside Danny King, Jason Crump, Nicolai Klindt, Cameron Heeps, Jordan Stewart and Anders Rowe. The Witches start their 2021 season on Monday 3rd May with a Premiership meeting against Peterborough in the Premiership.

‘Rising Star’ Criteria

Rising Stars riders are 24 as of the 1st January of the current year or have less than three years professional league experience to also allow other motorbike sport crossovers ie: motocross, grasstrack etc, have an average under a Premiership League CMA (Calculated Match Average) of 5.50, or under a Championship League CMA of 6.50.

Riders whose average is above a Premiership League CMA of 3.00 and a Championship League CMA of 3.50 are classified as a 4-star rider. 

Riders whose average is below a Championship League CMA of 3.50 and above 3.00 are classified as 3-star rider.

Riders whose average is assessed or has a minimum Championship League CMA of 2.00 and below 3.00 are classified as a 2-star rider.

Riders who have not competed in any professional league are classified as a 1-star rider.

2020 SEASON TICKET REFUND INFORMATION

Season ticket holders who purchased a season ticket for the cancelled 2020 season but have chosen to rollover their ticket for the 2021 campaign are entitled to a partial refund.

With Swindon not participating in the Premiership this season and no Supporters Cup this year, it means there are five meetings less than originally stated when purchasing the season ticket. We will be reflecting the difference in meetings by issuing a partial refund of £80 for adult tickets and £73 for concession tickets.

To apply for your refund, please email enquiries@ipswichwitches.co with your bank details and the exact name that appears on your bank account. Some of you may have already been contacted by the club regarding this matter, in which case you do not need to email us.

There is also an option to donate your refund to the Ipswich Speedway Supporters Club who plan to put the money towards helping our riders with their equipment costs. All equipment will be purchased directly by the Supporters Club and a full list of this will be printed in the raceday programme throughout the season with your name alongside. You will also be given the opportunity to meet your favourite rider and have a photo taken by our photographer. Please email enquiries@ipswichwitches.co with your details if you wish to take up this option.

Please note, the price of the Grandstand Seat (£25) will not be partially refunded at this moment in time but will be reviewed at a later date once the Covid-19 restrictions are known at the start of the season.

For those wanting to purchase a season ticket for 2021, we will be waiting until April before deciding whether to put them on sale for the new season. This is to allow us to hopefully have a clearer position on the situation surrounding the global pandemic nearer to the start of the season. We will continue to keep you updated, here on our official website and thank you for your continued support.

2021 FIXTURES RELEASED

By Henry Chard

The fixtures for the 2021 Premiership season have been released, with the Witches starting their league campaign with a home meeting against local rivals Peterborough at Foxhall in May.

With no Supporters Cup this season, it is league action all the way for the Witches as they face the other five teams in the division four times over the course of the season, twice at home and twice away with the top four at the end of the season qualifying for the play-offs.

The British Final will take place on 16th August at The National Speedway Stadium. Dates for the new individual series involving the league’s top riders will be announced soon with one round taking place at each Premiership track.

All fixtures are subject to change and fixtures that are live on Eurosport will be released in the near future. 

Our full fixture list for the 2021 season can be found here.

2021 WITCHES…JORDAN STEWART

By Henry Chard

The Ipswich ‘Tru Plant’ Witches have signed talented Australian prospect Jordan Stewart for the 2021 Premiership season.

The club have been forced to make two changes to the team that was due to ride in 2020 with both Jake Allen and Nico Covatti sitting out the 2021 season in Britain due to the ongoing global pandemic. The management have moved quickly to sign talented youngsters Stewart and Anders Rowe to replace the duo and the two new recruits join Jason Crump, Nicolai Klindt, Danny King and Cameron Heeps in the 2021 side with the club’s ‘rising star’ to be announced soon.

Stewart had signed for Swindon in the 2020 season that never got started due to the pandemic but with the Robins deciding not to run in 2021 due to the uncertainty surrounding the Covid-19 restrictions that left the Australian without a Premiership club. However, Ipswich promoter Chris Louis moved quickly to bring him to Foxhall for the upcoming campaign.

“Obviously, Swindon pulled the pin a couple of weeks ago and that was pretty unexpected,” said Stewart. “Rosco (Alun Rossiter) only let me know a couple of days before but it was a tough pill to take. It was my first year in the Premiership and I was really looking forward to going to Swindon and having a go there but I’m lucky enough that Ipswich jumped on board.

“Chris contacted me, he messaged me on WhatsApp and asked if I was interested to go there. I’ve been to Ipswich once or twice in the Championship. It’s a cool track and stadium and I’m very excited to be there.”

The 22-year-old is looking forward to getting to grips with the Foxhall track and believes there is no better man to learn from than his compatriot Jason Crump.

“It is a very tricky track, it’s fairly tight and grippy and hard to ride which in my eyes is a good home track advantage. I’m very interested in going there to ride and it can only make me a better rider, learning how to ride that track and with the likes of Crumpy as guidance, you can’t get a better guidance than a three-time world champion can you?”

With no league racing in Britain in 2020, the Mildura-born rider has been keeping busy working for his father’s business and has had plenty of track time down under in recent months.

“My father owns his own engineering business, it’s a family business so I’m lucky enough to work for him when I come home. I’m very lucky with that side of things, I’ve had a steady job and steady income all year. On the racing side of things there wasn’t much from April until about June because we were in lockdown too out here, so we were all pretty knackered too.

“The last couple of months, we have been very lucky and have done eight or nine meetings, there’s been plenty of practices and that type of thing. It’s probably the best place to be at the moment in Australia, plenty of practice, plenty of meetings and there is plenty more to come. I have kept myself very busy riding over the last month or two with riding and it has been really good.”

Stewart has high ambitions in the sport and says he will do whatever it takes to get to Britain to ride this season despite the ongoing coronavirus restrictions making international travel difficult.

“That’s the next thing, at the end of the day I want to be world champion and I want to be a top speedway rider so I will do whatever it takes to get over there. Who knows what is going to happen, they’ve already delayed the season until the start of May and with restrictions it is going to be hard. I will have to quarantine when I get there and quarantine when I get back and that alone is expensive.

“You’ve got to push all that aside and keep looking at your goal and focus on what is at the end of the tunnel. If you want to be a speedway rider you have got to do what you’ve got to do and get over there and ride. You can’t afford to have two years off in my opinion. Jake has pulled the pin on this year and he is one of my best mates but it is going to be hard for him in the upcoming years to try and compete with all the other boys if he’s had another year off and the UK season does go ahead this year, it will make it harder for him next year.”

The new signing has been spending plenty of time with new teammate Crump in his homeland and can’t wait to continue his progression in the sport this year.

“I’m very close with Jason and have been hanging out with him whilst he’s been in Mildura and we have been talking as he knows what is going on at Ipswich. I’ve been talking to him; he’s been talking to Chris and it’s been pretty cool to have Jason helping me out and pointing me in the right direction. I know Danny (King) fairly well and Heepsy (Cameron Heeps) and from what Jason is saying it is going to be some team.

“I’m not the type of rider that sets goals, every year, every race, every meeting, as long as I’m improving and walking away with a few positives, that’s the main plan. I want to get over there and get a good average and keep on progressing and scoring points. I’ll be throwing 120% at it and every ride I go out in I will be trying my best.”

2021 team: Danny King ©, Jason Crump, Nicolai Klindt, Cameron Heeps, Jordan Stewart, Anders Rowe

2021 WITCHES…ANDERS ROWE

By Henry Chard

The Ipswich ‘Tru Plant’ Witches have signed highly rated British youngster Anders Rowe for the 2021 Premiership season.

The club have been forced to make two changes to the team that was due to ride in 2020 with both Jake Allen and Nico Covatti sitting out the 2021 season in Britain due to the ongoing global pandemic. The management have moved quickly to sign talented youngsters Rowe and Jordan Stewart to replace the duo and the two new recruits join Jason Crump, Nicolai Klindt, Danny King and Cameron Heeps in the 2021 side with the club’s ‘rising star’ to be announced soon.

Rowe was due to ride for Swindon and Somerset in the 2020 season that never got started due to the pandemic with both sides then deciding not to run in 2021 due to the uncertainty surrounding the Covid-19 restrictions. However, it wasn’t long before the British youngster was snapped up and Rowe admitted he was relieved to get new contracts sorted in the Premiership and Championship.

“It was awesome to get the call from Ipswich to come and ride for them,” said Rowe. “They are a really well known club in the speedway world and after I got told that Swindon wasn’t running, I got told whilst I was in hospital, I thought hopefully I might pick something up throughout the year if someone doesn’t come back or something.

“A couple of days later I got told Somerset wasn’t running and then I started thinking I’m not in the best place here, I haven’t got a middle league either. Then obviously I got the call from Redcar which was awesome and then next day I got the call from Ipswich. It was a massive relief for me, and I had a couple of other calls from clubs in both leagues, but I thought the best two for me were going to be Redcar and Ipswich.

“Ipswich is a really well-run club and they always put a strong team together and the management seem to be awesome. I think I have ridden the track maybe once and I seemed to really like it. It is going to be a track that will be good for me to learn and progress on. I think it was my first ever time going to that sort of track when I competed in the British Under-19 Championship in 2018 and I think I did ok, but I have progressed a lot since then.”

Despite no league racing in Britain in 2020, the 18-year-old got the call to ride in Poland last summer where he gained some valuable experience on the bike.

“I did the Ben Fund at the start of 2020 and after that Covid knocked us down and it wasn’t the best situation for anyone really but I was lucky enough to get two phone calls to go to Poland, one of them being Torun and one being Unia Leszno and I would race for their second division club in Poland to bring the youngsters on.

“I got the call on a Monday and on the Thursday morning they arrived and picked my bikes up and, on the Friday, I was on a flight to Poland and I lived over there all summer. It was really good, and I learnt a lot, I had the ups and downs along the way as you do. The crashes, the engine failures and all that sort of stuff but other than that it was brilliant.

“This year I’m racing again in Poland and I know what to expect this year. I’ve got two bikes ready to go, the same as England where I have two brand new bikes ready to go and I can’t wait to get going now really.”

The Dorset-born rider believes he can learn a lot from his 2021 Witches teammates and revealed it was an important factor in deciding to join the club.

“A big decider for me was the team with the experience that is in it to bring me on as a rider. You’ve got Danny King, Jason Crump, Nicolai Klindt and Cameron Heeps. Everyone there in that top five are experienced riders and it should be really good for me to progress and it is good to have that much experience in the team to bring me on.”

2021 will be Rowe’s first full season in the Premiership and he is doing everything on and off the track to ensure he continues his progression in the sport.

“I did a guest booking in 2018 for Swindon when I first turned 16 and I’d never raced in the middle league or the top league before. I’d only raced in the National League for Kent and I think I scored one point, but I was a number two in the National League. I was really proud of scoring that point and doing that top meeting opened my eyes to how much I needed to progress.

“Before then I didn’t do much fitness as I was a kid still at school and I was only 16 and you don’t really think much of the gym aspect of it while you are still at school. After that I started training and ever since then I have trained every day really. I’ve just got off my Zwift to talk to you and I will go back on it for a couple of hours!”

2021 team: Danny King ©, Jason Crump, Nicolai Klindt, Cameron Heeps, Jordan Stewart, Anders Rowe

ALLEN SITS OUT 2021 SEASON

Ipswich ‘Tru Plant’ Witches rider Jake Allen will not race in British speedway in 2021 due to the ongoing global pandemic.

The Australian was a key part of the 2019 Witches side and was named in the line-up for the 2020 season that never got started. The 25-year-old made the announcement that he would not be competing in Britain in 2021 on Tuesday evening on his Facebook page with the following statement.

To all involved in British Speedway.

As you may have read by now through club statements it is with deep regret that I have had to pull out of competing in British Speedway in 2021. Due to the current situation with regards to Covid-19, there can be no guarantees regarding the number of meetings that will take place and unfortunately this has cost me my place in British Speedway for 2021.

It is a simple case of not being in a position to afford to race professionally after the financial losses of 2020. As an Aussie I am unable to support myself financially in the UK as visa restrictions do not allow me to work other than race Speedway, and therefore if the season of 2021 is cancelled then I cannot guarantee that I would be in a position to return home. Plus, even if I managed to get home there is a compulsory quarantine at a cost of around $3500.

It is extremely disappointing that I will miss the 2021 season, I believe I have improved as a rider over the past few seasons and still believe that I have the ability to play a key role in British Speedway. I genuinely enjoy all aspects of being able to compete in British Speedway and I will be spending all my time throughout the remainder of this year to come back in 2022. Please understand that having to take a year out of racing is not what any rider wants to do but I want everyone involved in British Speedway to understand that I am 100% committed to British racing when circumstances allow.

I still have a long journey ahead in this sport and racing in the UK is a key aspect of this journey.

I want to wish everyone a safe and enjoyable season in 2021, and I will see everyone soon.

All the best,

Jake Allen

Promoter Chris Louis admitted it is a blow to lose Allen for the season but said he will be welcomed back to Foxhall in 2022. Louis also confirmed that team news for the upcoming season will be released soon.

“It was obviously a huge blow to hear the news that Jake wouldn’t be returning in 2021,” said Louis. “Unfortunately for Jake he’s paying the price for his loyalty staying in the country last season in anticipation of a late start. We totally respect his decision to stay in Australia and rebuild in preparation for 2022 when there will be a Witches race suit hanging in the changing room for him. We will welcome him back with open arms and we are looking forward to seeing him again in 2022.

“Team news will be coming next week along with season ticket information, so look out for that.”

LOUIS EXCITED TO GET GOING AS 2021 PLANS CONFIRMED

By Henry Chard

The Ipswich ‘Tru Plant’ Witches will compete in the Premiership in 2021 after plans for the upcoming season were confirmed following the latest British Speedway discussions.

The Witches will take their spot in the top tier of British Speedway alongside Belle Vue, King’s Lynn, Peterborough, Sheffield and Wolverhampton with plans to begin the season on 3rd May. The top four teams will qualify for the end of season play-offs with the fixture list set to be released in the coming days.

There will be no Premiership Supporters Cup in 2021 but there is a new competition for supporters this season. An individual series involving the league’s top riders will take place across six rounds, one at each Premiership track, with a winner crowned in the final round at Belle Vue.

The points limit for team building has been set at 35.5 for six riders in the Premiership with one rider in each side being from the new ‘Rising Star’ programme. This five-year plan provides a clear pathway for young British riders in the sport and from 2022 the plan will be to have two ‘rising stars’ in each team. The list of ‘rising stars’ will be graded and re-graded after each season.

As part of the programme, there will be Premiership academy second halves and track days throughout the season to give more track time to young British riders.

Witches promoter Chris Louis is pleased that decisions have been made for the upcoming season and is looking forward to seeing the action start.

“It’s good that decisions have now been finalised for the season,” said Louis. “We all know what it looks like and I’m really excited to get going as we’ve now had over a season without speedway. It’s exciting news about the individual series and we all get a round, so we will look forward to that at Ipswich, that will be a big night.”

Louis believes the Rising Star programme is a good move for British Speedway and hopes it will give young riders more support along the way.

“The big news is the start of the Rising Star programme which is going to give us a clearer pathway from the beginnings when you first ride through to being a professional rider with more support as it goes.

“There will be more opportunities to ride at academy second halves and academy days where professional riders will be involved. I’m looking forward to working with those riders in years to come and they will increase from 2022 onwards.”

The former captain admitted that the ongoing global pandemic and Polish restrictions on the number of leagues riders can race in have forced some of the changes for 2021. Defending champions Swindon and Championship outfit Somerset have both opted not to ride in the upcoming campaign and Louis also confirmed that Nico Covatti would not be taking his place in the Witches side this year.

“Changes have had to happen as a reaction, in part, to Covid-19. There are some riders like Nico who won’t be returning and that is a Covid-19 situation, so it is having an effect. Swindon and Somerset aren’t starting as they are safeguarding their futures by doing that and they have the full support of both leagues.

“We have had to react to that and the fact that several of our top end riders aren’t returning in 2021. As a reaction we are bringing on the ‘Rising Star’ programme and all the work around that to give a clearer more guided pathway for young British riders. That is to make the sport sustainable in this country and give ourselves a chance of having a top national team again.

“When we can include two riders in the national team, we are competitive, no one can argue that with how Robert (Lambert) has gone this year and Tai (Woffinden), obviously he’s a three-time world champion. It’s a shame some of the top riders won’t be in Britain in 2021 and we fully intend to make sure we can get them back to the UK in the near future, but this year looks slightly different.”

The Witches were last in competitive action back in October 2019 as they lost in the Premiership Play-Off final, but Louis is hoping to go one better in 2021 with news on the team and season tickets coming soon.

“We are looking to win the final this year not just compete in it. Team news won’t be far behind this announcement and we will be updating season ticket holders in the coming days.”

BRITISH SPEEDWAY UPDATE

British Speedway clubs have agreed a start date of early May for the 2021 season with fixtures to be published next week for both the Premiership and Championship.

Plans are in place for a new concept in both leagues with more details to follow. The plans have been made to adapt to the current situation regarding Polish restrictions on the amount of leagues riders can race in, plus the ongoing challenges presented by the pandemic.

There is a clear pathway for the development of British Speedway and young British riders, not just in 2021 but in the years ahead.

In addition, whilst there is disappointing news about losing Swindon and Somerset for 2021, these decisions have been made by these clubs to protect their futures from 2022 onwards. They will be welcomed back into the sport next year.

Another club has expressed an interest in joining the Championship and this will be explored in due course.

More details regarding the 2021 season will be revealed alongside our broadcast partners Eurosport in the coming days.

We will bring you club reaction next week from promoter Chris Louis once more details have been released.