By Henry Chard
WHEN & WHERE…
The ‘Tru Plant’ Witches travel to the Paul Chapman & Sons Arena on Saturday 23rd March to take on Leicester Lions in a challenge fixture that starts at 7.30pm.
LEICESTER: 1. Scott Nicholls 8.14 © 2. Ellis Perks 3.95 3. Josh Bates 5.87 4. Ryan Douglas 6.12 5. Richie Worrall 7.80 6. Jack Thomas 2.24 7. Connor Mountain 3.48. Team Manager: Stewart Dickson
IPSWICH: 1. Chris Harris 7.59 2. David Bellego 6.11 3. Richard Lawson 6.55 4. Cameron Heeps 4.72 5. Danny King 6.36 © 6. Jake Allen 4.56 7. Drew Kemp 3.00 (g). Team Manager: Ritchie Hawkins
Leicester have their Championship averages listed, Ipswich have their Premiership averages listed.
REFEREE: A. Steele
WHAT’S THE STORY?
The Witches begin their 2019 season with a challenge fixture at Leicester on Saturday, looking to get dialled in ahead of the meaningful action that begins in April. After a winter of change, the Witches now go into this meeting as a Premiership outfit with several new faces in their ranks. With a new-look team and a new division to contend with, the management were keen to bed the side in with warm-up fixtures such as this one and it will be the perfect chance for the Witches to blow away any cobwebs and get themselves race-fit again before the visit of local rivals King’s Lynn to Foxhall in the Supporters Cup in April.
Chris Harris, David Bellego, Richard Lawson and Jake Allen will ride their first meeting in Witches kevlars but new Polish signing Krystian Pieszczek will have to wait for his first appearance with the team as he misses out due to Polish commitments. Ipswich asset Drew Kemp will step in for Pieszczek with Cameron Heeps moving into the main body of the side for this friendly fixture. Captain Danny King returns to a former club and also finished third in last week’s Ben Fund Bonanza held at the Paul Chapman & Sons Arena last week.
FROM THE MANAGER…
‘Tru Plant’ Witches team manager Ritchie Hawkins looks ahead to Saturday’s clash…
“It will be nice to get back on track and it is a very good thing to have a challenge match, the boys can enjoy riding and I think we have a few travelling fans planning to come so that will be good for us and for Leicester. It will be nice for everyone to have a safe meeting and get a few races under their belt and a win or two.
“It is a challenge match and that is how I expect to take it, it is all about starting the process of bonding as a team. For a rider’s first meeting of the season there will obviously be a few nerves. You just want to get back racing, blow the cobwebs off and get through it safely and move on.
“Drew is very much part of Ipswich and our long-term future. He was down with us on press day practicing and he is in our plans and it is great to include him. When we get the opportunity to include him we will, and it is a great opportunity for him on Saturday.
“Potentially losing to a Championship side and the reaction that could bring does not worry me too much. I expect us to win but there is no pressure on them and I won’t read too much into the result either way. “
Leicester made the drop down to the Championship this winter having spent the last five years in the top flight of British speedway. Their spell in the Premiership didn’t go as planned as the club failed to make the play-offs in any of their five seasons but with a new division in 2019 brings fresh hopes of success for the Lions.
Their captain and number one is a man Ipswich fans know well as Scott Nicholls leads the side. The Ipswich-born rider has spent several seasons with the Witches in his career, famously being part of the treble winning side in 1998. The 40-year old has bags of experience at Grand Prix level and is one of Britain’s most decorated riders with seven British titles to his name. There is another former Witch at reserve as Connor Mountain looks to continue his progress in the sport with a strong year at Championship level. There will be no points at stake on Saturday, but the home side will be keen to push their Premiership opponents as close as they can on the night.
ON THE ROAD…
Leicester ride in black, yellow and red kevlars and race at the
Paul Chapman & Sons Arena. The track measures at 300 metres with the track record belonging to Robert Lambert who set a time of 60.31 in August of 2018. An adult ticket costs £16, concessions £13, students (aged 17-22) £13 and children under the age of 16 go free with a paying adult. Official programmes are available within the stadium as is food and drink. There are 235 free parking spaces available at the stadium with further free car parking facilities on the Beaumont Shopping Complex (maximum time of four hours). For travel information head here.
For more information about the club head to Leicester’s official website.