Author Archives: Henry Chard

About Henry Chard

Digital Media Manager at Ipswich Speedway

WITCHES REMAIN IN PREMIERSHIP FOR 2020

By Henry Chard

The ‘Tru Plant’ Witches will continue to race in the top flight of British Speedway in 2020 following the conclusion of the AGM this week.

Ipswich will race in a seven-team Premiership, with Sheffield Tigers making the move up and Poole Pirates dropping down to the second tier.

The Witches will race against Belle Vue, King’s Lynn, Peterborough, Sheffield, Swindon and Wolverhampton. Race nights remain Mondays and Thursdays with a points limit for teams of 42.50. Teams will race each other twice at home and twice away with the top four in the table qualifying for the play-offs.

The Suffolk side have been drawn in the southern section of the Premiership Supporters’ Cup against King’s Lynn, Peterborough and Swindon. The top club from the section will progress to the final to race the winner of the northern section that consists of Belle Vue, Sheffield and Wolverhampton.

This will be an early season competition with the final scheduled to take place on the week commencing June 1. The clubs wish to further examine and grow the social media interaction of this competition.

A proposal will also be considered at next year’s AGM for clubs to retain their existing one-to-seven for the following campaign, with any changes to that team seeing them return to the points limit.

Scunthorpe promoter Rob Godfrey has taken over as chairman of the BSPA with Sheffield’s Damien Bates now vice-chairman. Ipswich promoter Chris Louis will now be a director of the association alongside Somerset’s Debbie Hancock and Leicester’s Stewart Dickson.

The BSPA wish to place on record their thanks to outgoing chairman Keith Chapman and directors Neil Machin and Colin Pratt for their service and dedication over many years.

Godfrey said: “One message which has come out very strongly from supporters is that they don’t want things tinkered with, and we’ve taken that on board.

“I would like to pay tribute to what Keith has done during his time as chairman. I started the journey with him four years ago, and a lot of people don’t realise just how hard he has worked over that time.

“Keith battled in meetings with high-profile people to ensure the survival of Belle Vue, and he put his own money into Leicester to stop it shutting – and then to move Peterborough into the Premiership last winter.

“The day-to-day running of the BSPA is so different now to what it was four years ago, he’s been the leader of that, and it’s sad that his personal and work circumstances have seen him stand down – and my thanks also to Neil and Colin for their work over that time.

“But I’m very proud and pleased to have the new team around me. We want to take the next step with some fresh ideas, and also, it’s great to welcome Debbie as the first female director since Pat Bliss over 20 years ago.

“We do have plenty to look forward to, we have a fantastic new TV deal with Eurosport on a massive platform, and it’s great to have brought in real commercial expertise via outside agencies to work on this and other issues.

“Naturally, league sponsorship is another step we would like to take, and another key feature of the AGM was that many clubs are working hard on promotional initiatives, which they will make public in the build-up to the new season.

“We also have a thriving youth scene, which is now paying dividends with 26 riders who have graduated from that scene racing in the Championship last season, and there’s more to come in 2020, so there are plenty of good things happening.”

Ipswich promoter Louis had this to say on this year’s AGM:

“It’s an honour to accept my position on the board of British Speedway and join the new chairman Rob Godfrey, vice-chairman Damien Bates and fellow director Debbie Hancock.  It’s a very exciting time for the sport as we enter a new TV contract with Eurosport.  I’m looking forward to working on new initiatives and am pleased with how our AGM has gone.”

More reaction to follow in the near future as we build up to the new season in 2020.

EUROSPORT DEAL FOR BRITISH SPEEDWAY

Eurosport signs 5-year deal with BSPA for British Speedway

• Eurosport UK secures exclusive live broadcast rights to British Speedway Premiership and Championship Leagues from 2020

• 18 live rounds per season plus post-race highlights on Quest and DMAX

• Full digital rights across all platforms

Eurosport, the number one sport destination in Europe, has announced a new addition to its motorsport portfolio after signing a 5-year deal with the BSPA (British Speedway Promoters’ Association) to screen British Speedway live in the UK. Starting in 2020, Eurosport will broadcast live on-site coverage from 18 rounds across the domestic SGB Premiership League season. Highlights from every round will also be available free-to-air on channels Quest and DMAX – also part of Discovery’s UK channel network. Viewers will also be able to stream all the action live and catch-up on demand via Eurosport Player – available anytime, anywhere on desktop and mobile.

All the most exciting action from every round will be captured on @Eurosport_UK Twitter, with near-live action clipping, ensuring fans don’t miss a moment. The latest stories and news will be covered in-depth on Eurosport.co.uk.

This new acquisition further strengthens Eurosport’s two-wheel offer joining exclusive live coverage of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship, FIM Superbike World Championship, Speedway Euro Championship and Under-21 World Championship. Eurosport also broadcasts live coverage of the FIA Formula-E Championship and prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans.

British Speedway operates across three domestic leagues; The Premiership (top league) the Championship (middle league) and National League (development league). Meetings are run over 15 heats, with teams from all over the UK competing for championship points across a calendar which runs from March-October.

Simon Downing, Head of Factual and Sport Discovery UK, said:

“We’re delighted to add British Speedway to our growing motorsport offer. We see this as a valuable addition to make Eurosport the go-to destination for some of the most exciting two-wheel championships.

“It’s a fantastic series and we look forward to delivering first-class production and a great viewing experience to what we know is a hugely-passionate fanbase.

“Eurosport has a rich heritage in motorsport, and we’re very pleased to be able to extend the coverage to free-to-air audiences on Quest and DMAX.”

Keith Chapman, Chairman of the British Speedway Promoters’ Association said:

“We have been thrilled by the interest shown from broadcasters wishing to be part of our exciting sport during our recent tender process. Recognising that media rights are vital to the development of our sport, we set up a separate media working group, led by Adrian Smith from Belle Vue Speedway and engaged the services of an external specialist consultant, Sadie Wigglesworth of Hatfits Limited, to lead us through this important process and we are delighted to have concluded a long-term partnership with a major broadcaster in Eurosport. A significant attraction for us has been the strong free-to-air component, with British Speedway being available on Quest and DMAX from 2020 onwards. This enables greater access for existing speedway fans as well as providing new platforms to attract a wider audience to this great sport.”

Live Motorsport on Eurosport

Bennetts British Superbike Championship

FIM Superbike World Championship

FIA Formula-E World Championship

24 Hours of Le Mans

Speedway Euro Championship

Speedway Under-21 World Championship

Click here to subscribe to the Eurosport Player

About Eurosport

Eurosport is the number one sport destination in Europe, fuelling the passion of fans and connecting them with the greatest sports events in the world. As the Home of the Olympic Games in Europe, Eurosport delivered the ultimate Games experience for PyeongChang 2018 reaching both record linear and digital viewership across localised Eurosport services. Firmly established as the Home of Cycling, Grand Slam Tennis and Winter Sport, Eurosport channels – Eurosport 1, Eurosport 2 – reach 242 million cumulative subscribers across 75 countries in Europe, Asia Pacific, Africa and the Middle East. Eurosport.com is Europe’s No 1 online sports news website with an average of 42 million unique users per month and, along with the Eurosport app (available on iOS and Android), the only place to watch Eurosport anytime online, on mobile and on tablet devices. Eurosport Events specialises in the management and promotion of international sporting events. More information is available by visiting corporate.eurosport.com.

About the British Speedway Promoters’ Association

The British Speedway Promoters Association (BSPA) under the jurisdiction of its governing bodies – the AutoCycle Union (ACU) and the Speedway Control Bureau (SCB) – represents the promoters in all three current leagues operating in the UK – the British Speedway Premiership, the British Speedway Championship and the National Development League and in addition owns the right to the national team and supports the junior racing leagues. The BSPA is responsible for organising and the administration of all domestic motorcycle speedway competitions. Based out of the Auto-Cycle Union (ACU) headquarters in Rugby, Warwickshire, Speedway in the UK is run under SCB rules.. The BSPA is a trading name of The British Speedway Promoters Limited who own all media rights associated with the sport in the UK.

2019 END OF SEASON AWARDS NIGHT

The 2019 End of Season Awards Night took place last Friday at Ufford Park. You can find the list of winners below and a selection of photos from Jeff Higgott above.

Bonus Point Shield – Cameron Heeps

Most Improved Rider – Jake Allen

Most Entertaining Rider – Cameron Heeps

Rider of the Season – Cameron Heeps

Lifetime Achievement Award – Mark Styles

HAWKINS: IT’S BEEN A GREAT SEASON

By Henry Chard

Tru Plant’ Witches team manager Ritchie Hawkins said that it has been a great season for the club after they finished as Premiership runners-up in 2019.

Ipswich defied the odds all season to reach the Play-Off final against the Swindon Robins and going into Thursday’s second leg at the Abbey, the odds were once again stacked against them following a 41-49 defeat at Foxhall in the first leg. On this occasion they could not pull off a shock as they were heavily beaten 62-27 by the Robins as Swindon completed a league and cup double in 2019.

Hawkins said he was disappointed with the way things went in the second leg but admitted that Swindon were just too good for his side over two legs.

“Tonight did not go the way we wanted, and everyone is a little bit disappointed,” said Hawkins. “Swindon were absolutely superb and thoroughly deserved the win. They were better than us at the right time in the final. They have set the benchmark for us now and we know how good we will need to be next season to try and win the league.”

The boss reflected on the club’s first season back in the top division of British speedway and was already looking ahead to next season.

“Overall, I think everyone will be in agreement, it has been a great season and thoroughly enjoyable for the supporters. We have given you some great moments and it has been a pleasure for me working with everybody. We were written off in our first season back in the Premiership and we got to the Play-Off final. We will now work to go one better next season.”

Despite being eight points down after the first leg of the final up against a Swindon side who had not lost all season at home, the manager said that his side still approached the tie with the belief that they could win.

“We came here to beat them, but they were untouchable on their home track and we could not do anything about it. There was no lack of effort or belief, it was just one of those things, they were better than us this week and well done to them.”

Hawkins once again paid tribute to the fans who backed their team in good numbers in Wiltshire.

“We have had brilliant support all season and the crowds have been great. We keep saying it all season and it is right we keep talking about how brilliant they have been. Thanks to everyone for coming to support us and I hope we have done you proud this season.”

On Friday, the club hosts its annual End of Season Awards Night and Hawkins said that 2019 has been one to look back fondly on, despite missing out on the title.

“We will have a good night tomorrow night. We might need to lick our wounds for a bit but on reflection we have got to be happy with what we have done this season. It is a great platform to build on for next season.”

Click here for the full raceday review.

RACEDAY REVIEW: SWINDON 62–27 IPSWICH (111-68)

Les Aubrey Photography

By Henry Chard

THE SCORES…

SWINDON 62: Jason Doyle ©13+2 (Paid maximum), Tobiasz Musielak 12+3 (Paid maximum), Rasmus Jensen 11+1 (Paid maximum), Troy Batchelor 9, Adam Ellis 8+1, Claus Vissing 5, Ellis Perks 4. Team Manager: Alun Rossiter

IPSWICH 27: Jake Allen 11, Chris Harris 6, Niels-Kristian Iversen 5, Danny King © 3+1, Cameron Heeps 1, James Sarjeant 1, Richard Lawson 0. Team Manager: Ritchie Hawkins

REFEREE: C. Turnbull

VENUE: Abbey Stadium

FINAL PREMIERSHIP TABLE

Team Meetings Points               
Poole 24 52
Swindon 24 50
Wolverhampton 24 43
Ipswich 24 42
Belle Vue 24 41
King’s Lynn 24 31
Peterborough 24 20

PREMIERSHIP PLAY-OFF FIXTURES

SEMI-FINALS:

Poole 50-40 Ipswich (1st Leg), Ipswich 54-36 Poole (2nd Leg)

Wolverhampton 39-49 Swindon (1st Leg), Swindon 58-32 Wolverhampton (2nd Leg)

FINAL:

Ipswich 41-49 Swindon (1st Leg), Swindon 62-27 Ipswich (2nd Leg)

WHAT HAPPENED?

The ‘Tru Plant’ Witches were comprehensively beaten 62-27 at the Abbey Stadium on Thursday night as the Swindon Robins won the Premiership title.

Ipswich had a mountain to climb having lost the first leg of the Premiership Play-Off final by eight points at Foxhall on Tuesday and they never threatened to pull those points back as the home side ran riot. The hosts recorded 12 heat advantages and the contest was all over after 10 heats to the delight of the home fans. Jake Allen top scored for the Witches with 11 points.

The evening did not get off to a good start for the visitors as number one Niels-Kristian jumped the start and suffered a tapes exclusion in heat one. Allen replaced the Dane and led early on, but Jason Doyle dived under the Ipswich reserve on the fourth turn of the opening lap and went on and won a shared race despite seemingly riding with both wheels over the white line at one point. Allen won heat two and it looked like being another 3-3 but Ellis Perks suffered an engine failure whilst in third, promoting James Sarjeant to third which gave the Witches a 4-2. Heat three was called back after Tobiasz Musielak jumped the start but he made the gate in the re-run with Chris Harris pushing him hard in second. Harris was trying all he could to get past the home rider but went too wide and allowed Rasmus Jensen through for a Robins 5-1 that put them 10-8 up on the night and 59-49 ahead on aggregate.

Allen replaced Sarjeant in heat four as Troy Batchelor worked hard on the opening lap to get the better of him for the win, but the Witches man did enough to keep Claus Vissing behind him although a 4-2 to the home team extended their lead. Jensen moved at the start of heat five but got away with it and he was followed home by Musielak for a 5-1 with the tie quickly running away from the Witches. Allen was the early leader in heat six but both Doyle and Adam Ellis used their home track knowledge to pass him for another Swindon maximum that put them 24-12 up and 73-53 ahead on aggregate.

Batchelor won heat seven as Harris split the Robins pair with Perks third for a Swindon heat advantage. Ellis won heat eight ahead of Danny King and it was another 4-2 to the home team as Vissing claimed a point. Jensen and Musielak combined for another 5-1 in heat nine to put them 37-17 up and on the brink of winning the title, with an 86-58 aggregate lead.

The Robins confirmed their victory in heat 10 as Doyle and Ellis raced to a 5-1, and with five races to spare they knew they would be lifting the Premiership trophy at the end of the night in front of their home fans. Heat 11 was stopped as Batchelor locked up on the first turn forcing King to lay the bike down and the Robins man was excluded from the heat. However, in the re-run King also fell whilst in third and was excluded. Iversen won the third attempt of the race ahead of Perks, meaning a 3-2 to the away side. Musielak got the better of Allen to win heat 12 as the Witches man kept Vissing behind him to limit the hosts to a 4-2 that made the score 48-23 on the night and 97-64 on aggregate.

Batchelor and Doyle cruised to a 5-1 in heat 13 to pile on the misery for the Witches. Sarjeant jumped the start in heat 14 and was warned as Jensen beat Harris in the re-run with Perks third for a Robins heat advantage. The night finished with another 5-1 to Swindon in heat 15 as Doyle and Musielak completed their paid maximums to make the final score 62-27 in the second leg, giving them a resounding 111-68 victory on aggregate as they were crowned Premiership champions.

RIDER OF THE NIGHT…

Allen was the only Witch to provide any real resistance to the Swindon onslaught, scoring 11 from reserve.

KEY MOMENT…

The home side were dominant all night with the Witches unable to land a blow and the title was sealed in heat 10 as captain Doyle and partner Ellis raced to a comfortable 5-1.

WHAT IT MEANS…

Les Aubrey Photography

Swindon are the 2019 Premiership champions; their second trophy of the season having lifted the Premiership Supporters Cup already this year. The Robins were too good for everyone this campaign. For the Witches, they end the season as runners-up in their first season back in the top flight.

WHAT’S NEXT?

The ‘Tru Plant’ Witches have now finished the 2019 season. Thank you for your support throughout the season. Have a great winter and we will see you at Foxhall in 2020.

Click here for reaction from team manager Ritchie Hawkins.

SWINDON (49) V (41) IPSWICH: RACEDAY PREVIEW

By Henry Chard

WHEN AND WHERE…

The ‘Tru Plant’ Witches face the Swindon Robins at the Abbey Stadium on Thursday 17th October in a Premiership Play-Off final fixture that starts at 7.30pm, live on BT Sport.

THE TEAMS…

SWINDON: 1. Jason Doyle 8.96 © 2. Adam Ellis 6.49 3. Tobiasz Musielak 6.21 4. Rasmus Jensen 7.86 5. Troy Batchelor 8.82 6. Ellis Perks 3.57 7. Claus Vissing 4.43. Team Manager: Alun Rossiter

IPSWICH: 1.Niels-Kristian Iversen 7.54 2. Danny King 6.83 © 3. Richard Lawson 5.78 4. Chris Harris 6.16 5. Cameron Heeps 6.30 6. Jake Allen 5.56 7. James Sarjeant 3.26. Team Manager: Ritchie Hawkins

REFEREE: C. Turnbull

VENUE: Abbey Stadium

FINAL PREMIERSHIP TABLE

Team Meetings Points               
Poole 24 52
Swindon 24 50
Wolverhampton 24 43
Ipswich 24 42
Belle Vue 24 41
King’s Lynn 24 31
Peterborough 24 20

PREMIERSHIP PLAY-OFF FIXTURES

SEMI-FINALS:

Poole 50-40 Ipswich (1st Leg), Ipswich 54-36 Poole (2nd Leg)

Wolverhampton 39-49 Swindon (1st Leg), Swindon 58-32 Wolverhampton (2nd Leg)

FINAL:

Ipswich 41-49 Swindon (1st Leg), Swindon v Ipswich (Oct 17)

WHAT’S THE STORY?

The ‘Tru Plant’ Witches race their final meeting of the 2019 season as they travel to Swindon for the second leg of the Premiership Play-Off final. The two sides met at Foxhall on Tuesday as the Robins came away with a 41-49 victory that makes them firm favourites to finish the job off on home shale and lift the trophy. However, this Witches side have not got to the Premiership Play-Off final without a fight and although the task is a hard one, it is far from impossible. Ipswich were 10 points down after the first leg of the semi-final and managed to overcome reigning champions Poole in the second leg at Foxhall. Although the circumstances are different this time around, having the second leg away from home, the Witches will give it everything they have got one last time.

Ipswich are unchanged for this clash but there is a switch in riding order as Ritchie Hawkins shuffles his pack. Captain Danny King moves to number two with Cameron Heeps going to number five. Richard Lawson swaps with Chris Harris to move from number four to three and reserve Jake Allen switches to number six with James Sarjeant going to seven. It has been a mixed bag of results at the Abbey for the Witches this season. The Suffolk side suffered a 51-39 defeat early on in the season in a Supporters Cup tie before losing 46-44 in the league after losing out in a last-heat decider. Their most recent visit was one to forget as the Robins ran riot winning 66-24, as team changes by the management followed soon after.

There will be a large away following in Wiltshire with plenty of fans from Suffolk making the long journey down and the Witches will be hoping to produce a magnificent comeback to make it a happy trip home as they look to end 2019 as Premiership champions.

FROM THE MANAGER…

Tru Plant’ Witches team manager Ritchie Hawkins looks ahead to Thursday’s clash…

“It is a big ask of course, it was a big ask before we started. We go into Thursday with the mindset of clawing ourselves back into the meeting, winning the tie and taking the title. It would be an amazing achievement and a massive shock, but strange things happen and why can’t we do it?

“I don’t think previous results have much relevance on Thursday. We are starting eight points down with 15 heats to go and we have got to fight as hard as we can and that is all we can do. If we leave on Thursday knowing we put everything into it, either way we can hold our heads up high.

“Eight points can be clawed back in two heats, we can do it. Like I said we are massive underdogs, even more so now but we will go there and do the town proud. I am sure plenty of fans will be there cheering us on until the end and we will fight until the end because that is what they deserve.”   

THE ROBINS…

Swindon go into the second leg with an eight-point lead, putting them in a very strong position to go on and win the title. The Robins are unbeaten at home in 2019 in all competitions, the last time they did not win at the Abbey was back in May as Poole held them to a 45-45 draw. Since then they have been dominant on home shale and the Robins have won all home three meetings against the Witches this year. The Wiltshire club won the Premiership in 2017 and a win on Thursday would see them claim a domestic double having already won the Premiership Supporters Cup.

As we all know, the Robins have a powerful side. Former world champion Jason Doyle spearheads the side, with a former Grand Prix rider Troy Batchelor at five. Add into that Rasmus Jensen who is averaging over nine points at home this season, Adam Ellis and Tobiasz Musielak and you have a formidable top five. With home advantage in the second leg and the Premiership trophy waiting on the centre green, the Robins will be determined to make it a night to remember for their club.

ON THE ROAD…

Swindon ride in red and orange kevlars with white and black and race at the Abbey Stadium. The track measures at 315 metres with the track record belonging to Jason Doyle who set a time of 60.30 in July of 2019. An adult ticket costs £18, concessions £15, children (aged 11-16) £5 and children under the age of 11 go free. For travel information head here.

For more information about the club head to Swindon’s official website.

HAWKINS: WE’LL PUT EVERYTHING INTO IT AT SWINDON

By Henry Chard

Tru Plant’ Witches team manager Ritchie Hawkins said his team will give it absolutely everything in the second leg of the Premiership Play-Off final at Swindon on Thursday after they were defeated 41-49 by the Robins at Foxhall on Tuesday.

There was nothing to separate the two teams after 10 heats of the first leg, but the Robins finished strongly to build an eight-point lead, making them firm favourites to finish the job and lift the Premiership title on Thursday in the second leg.

Hawkins said that his side will do everything they can on Thursday in Wiltshire and see where it takes them.

“It is a Grand Final and it was always going to be tough,” said Hawkins. “We didn’t quite get on top early enough and it is half-time now and we are losing. Obviously, I would rather we were eight points up, but we have just got to go to Swindon now and put absolutely everything into it and see what happens.”

There were plenty of falls throughout the night as the likes of Jason Doyle, Adam Ellis and Tobiasz Musielak hit the deck but the boss said that his side have nothing to lose in the second leg now.

“Starting is important anywhere you go but I don’t think it was any more important than normal tonight. There is going to be incidents, everything is on the line now and it is the last effort at the end of the season. There were a couple of times when we were in good positions and then in the re-run, we didn’t get back in that position and it went against us.

“We are down and have nothing to lose going into Thursday and we will do what we have done all season and fight with every ounce of our bodies.”

As expected, there was a big crowd at Foxhall, and the manager said that his team will head to Wiltshire still believing they can win the tie.

“We have had good crowds here all season and whatever happens on Thursday it has been a wonderful season for the club. There are still 15 heats to go and get a win. We are both in the Grand Final on merit. They have won here but we need to go there believing we can win there which we can.”

Click here for the full raceday review.

RACEDAY REVIEW: IPSWICH 41-49 SWINDON

By Henry Chard

THE SCORES…

IPSWICH 41: Niels-Kristian Iversen 9+2, Jake Allen 9+1, Richard Lawson 7+2, Cameron Heeps 6+1, Chris Harris 6+1, Danny King © 4, James Sarjeant 0. Team Manager: Ritchie Hawkins

SWINDON 49: Tobiasz Musielak 12+1, Jason Doyle © 11, Rasmus Jensen 8+1, Adam Ellis 8+1, Ellis Perks 5, Troy Batchelor 4, Claus Vissing 1+1. Team Manager: Alun Rossiter

REFEREE: M. Bates

VENUE: Foxhall Stadium

MEETING SPONSORS…

Simply Climate Control – What sets Simply Climate Control apart from other conventional air conditioning businesses is their commitment to their core company values. Transparency, integrity and passion.

FINAL PREMIERSHIP TABLE

Team Meetings Points               
Poole 24 52
Swindon 24 50
Wolverhampton 24 43
Ipswich 24 42
Belle Vue 24 41
King’s Lynn 24 31
Peterborough 24 20

PREMIERSHIP PLAY-OFF FIXTURES

SEMI-FINALS:

Poole 50-40 Ipswich (1st Leg), Ipswich 54-36 Poole (2nd Leg)

Wolverhampton 39-49 Swindon (1st Leg), Swindon 58-32 Wolverhampton (2nd Leg)

FINAL:

Ipswich 41-49 Swindon (1st Leg), Swindon v Ipswich (Oct 17)

WHAT HAPPENED?

The ‘Tru Plant’ Witches were beaten 41-49 at Foxhall on Tuesday night as the Swindon Robins won the first leg of the Premiership Play-Off final.

It was a tight encounter with plenty of incidents throughout and there was nothing to separate the two sides after 10 heats. However, the away side found another gear and finished strongly to build up an eight-point lead ahead of the second leg at the Abbey on Thursday. Niels-Kristian Iversen top scored for the Witches with 9+2.

It looked like being the perfect start in heat one as Iversen and Cameron Heeps made the gate, but Jason Doyle fell on the first turn and failed to clear the track, meaning a re-run. Adam Ellis seemed to anticipate the start in the re-run and made a flying gate to win comfortably, meaning a 3-3. Jake Allen produced a classy ride to win heat two as the points were shared again. Tobiasz Musielak won heat three for the Robins ahead of Chris Harris and Richard Lawson meaning the score was locked at 9-9 after three races.

Troy Batchelor won heat four as the points were shared once again before a second Swindon rider hit the deck in heat five. Doyle made the start ahead of Harris with Ellis chasing the Ipswich man hard for a couple of laps, but in attempting to pass Harris on the outside going into turn one, he fell and was excluded from the re-run. There was another fall for a Robin in the re-run as Doyle was squeezed out in the first turn and all three riders were called back. The Swindon captain won the third attempt of the race for a yet another 3-3. The deadlock was broken in heat six as the Witches took the lead courtesy of a 5-1 from Heeps and Iversen which gave the hosts a 20-16 lead.

That lead did not last long as the visitors hit straight back in heat seven with a maximum from Rasmus Jensen and Musielak. The 3-3’s were back in heat eight as Ellis took the chequered flag with Allen second and Heeps had to work hard to pass Claus Vissing for a point. Ipswich were back in front after heat nine as Lawson and Harris raced to a maximum to put the Witches 29-25 ahead.

Iversen led heat 10 but there was another faller for the Robins as Musielak and Heeps went into turn three of the opening lap side by side, but with the Witches man on the inside, Musielak fell and Heeps was adjudged to be the guilty party, meaning he was excluded. The Robins took advantage in the re-run to record a 1-5 that levelled the score again. Swindon went ahead in heat 11 as Doyle and Ellis combined for a maximum. The Robins extended that lead as Musielak won heat 12 ahead of Allen and Ellis Perks won the battle for third against Harris on the race to the line, meaning a 2-4 to the away side that put them 33-39 up.

Ipswich clawed two points in heat 13 as Iversen got the better of Doyle and Danny King held off Batchelor for third for a Witches 4-2. Jensen won heat 14 for Swindon ahead of Lawson and with Perks third that sealed victory on the night for the away side. Doyle won the final race of the night beating Iversen and Musielak collected a point for another Robins heat advantage that gave them a 41-49 win on the night.

SIMPLY CLIMATE CONTROL RIDER OF THE NIGHT…

Our meeting sponsors chose Allen as their rider of the night after he scored 9+1 from reserve.

KEY MOMENT…

Heat 11 seemed significant. After 10 races the scores were level at 30-30 but after the Robins recorded a maximum via Doyle and Ellis to make it back-to-back 1-5’s for the away side, the momentum had swung in their favour and they had quietened the big Foxhall crowd.

WHAT IT MEANS…

The Witches have work to do if they are to be crowned Premiership champions. They head to Swindon on Thursday for the second leg knowing they need to win by more than eight points with the Robins heavy favourites for the title.

WHAT’S NEXT?

The ‘Tru Plant’ Witches will race the second leg of the Premiership Play-Off final at the Abbey Stadium against the Swindon Robins on Thursday 17th October, live on BT Sport.

Click here for reaction from team manager Ritchie Hawkins.

KING: I WANT SUCCESS FOR THE FANS

‘Tru Plant’ Witches captain Danny King spoke of his desire to bring back a trophy to Foxhall Stadium ahead of the Premiership Play-Off final against Swindon.

Ipswich have qualified for the final in their first year back in the top flight of British speedway, having defeated defending champions Poole in the semi-final and will face the Swindon Robins in the final.

King missed the majority of 2018 with a serious nerve injury in his arm, but he has been pleased with his personal performance and the team’s in 2019.

“It has been a rollercoaster year,” said King. “We started the year like a house on fire, picking up points home and away, probably more so than anyone else. Then we came to a head at the end of the year and were struggling everywhere. We only just scraped into the play-offs and it wasn’t ideal form to be going into the play-offs, but we got there, did our job and are in the final.

“During the winter I was just trying to get myself fit. I got plenty of practice in and was feeling good on the bike but no matter how good you feel, you are not race-sharp. Missing a season took its toll but I am pleased with this season. I have had a lot of success and long may it continue. When you look at last year, I have got to be happy with this season.”

The 2016 British champion has captained Ipswich since 2015 and said that this year’s team has been one of the most enjoyable sides to be a part of.

“It has been great, and it has been one of the better years, we have got a good bunch of lads and mechanics. The whole atmosphere in the pits is good, there are no rivalries, everyone gets on and helps out. As a captain that makes the job a lot easier. When there is division in the camp that can make it difficult, but we haven’t had any of that.”

The 33-year-old looked back at the semi-final victory over Poole and said it was a night he will never forget in front of a big home crowd at Foxhall.

“It had everything. It was like a fairy-tale at Poole, everything was going well. We were 12 up and we thought worst case scenario we would keep it close. To come away losing by 10 was heart-breaking. We were disappointed with ourselves for letting it slip away and we were fired up by the way they celebrated in front of us. They celebrated like they had won the league, everyone left there dying for Saturday to come as we wanted to put it right and we did that.

“The crowd reaction on Saturday was unbelievable and was one of those things I will never forget and hopefully we will have more of that in the final. I believe we can beat anyone home and away on aggregate and we have. It is there for us to take and we need to finish the job.”

King has spent 11 seasons in Suffolk and is desperate to bring success to the club that he calls home.

“Everyone knows I am Ipswich speedway through and through, like a stick of rock! It is my home in speedway and I want success for the fans, the club and the town. I have never won the top division trophy. I have won the National League, the Championship but never the Premiership, so it would be the icing on the cake.”

The skipper spoke of the atmosphere around play-off ties and admitted you do feel the pressure of the situation as a rider.

“It is very strange situation when you are a rider, you feel the atmosphere. Once you put that helmet on your head, all eyes are on you and it is your turn to go out and do your job, there is a lot of pressure on that when it is play-offs. It is not like mid-season where you can perhaps afford a slip-up, there is no room for error in the play-offs. This is what the season has come down to and it is a very lonely ride when you are pushed off riding around to that start line with that pressure!”

The ’Tru Plant’ Witches take on the Swindon Robins in the Premiership Play-Off final with the first leg at Foxhall Stadium on Tuesday 15th October.