WITCHES TEAM MANAGER
Monday 12th February 2018
The staff signing-on night will be on Friday 16th February at 7pm at Ipswich Sports Club, Henley Road.More News
WITCHES TEAM MANAGER
We are really happy with the 2018 team. We had a list of riders we wanted to use and the six that finished with us at the end of last season and we would have liked to have kept them all. We put together lots of different teams and this one jumped out as the best one and we have managed to sign them all. We are delighted and a lot of people want to come and ride at Ipswich at the moment and people see that we have a good thing going.
Chris (Louis) and I work really well together and we say to each other ‘what do you think of this?’ We were both in agreement that this was our best line-up and it was the best way to go. It was pretty simple and I was happy that Chris was able to do deals with everyone and that they all wanted to come back. It came together quite easily to be fair.
The team is very similar but half the team is different to that which finished the season last year I suppose. Kyle (Newman) and Nathan (Greaves) played a massive part last year and were part of the team spirit. Danyon (Hume) was still part of it all too as he came to all the meetings. It is nice for the fans to have some continuity and it is nice to bring a fresh face in and with it being someone that no one has seen race in England, it adds an element of excitement to keep things fresh.
Nathan is going the right way and I am sure he will improve again this year. I don’t think it is a case of him going as far as he can. Cam (Heeps) for example put nearly two points on his average last season and I think they will both improve again next season. It’s the numbers game too and I think wherever Nathan goes he will do well. Kyle had a tough year injury wise but he will do very well for whoever he rides for next year and I would like to work with them both again.
We started the team building similarly to last year really. When you have Danyon on a two-point average, that is a no-brainer. Danny (King) is our number one and captain and he is a top rider, you are not going to change him. That is a great starting point and Rory (Schlein) in most other teams is a number one in the Championship. We are lucky to have him and Danny and they scored the most points in the league last year, won the most races and topped all those kind of stats from last year, we are lucky to have them.
Nico (Covatti) was doing very well last year until the injury and he has worked very hard and has been racing since. Everyone loves him at Ipswich, the fans love him because he is an out and out racer. He is ambitious and we are pleased to get him back in the team. With Cam’s progression it makes us look a strong top four. Cam needs to keep building, he matured a lot last year and you saw that in his results. He needs to keep working hard and pushing on now. He has been in Ipswich since he was 16 so the club means a lot to him and he is on the up. Connor (Mountain) is so professional and is doing everything right and he did really well for his first year. He averaged nearly three and half and he has done really well.
Michael (Haertel) is someone Chris has been keeping an eye on and we spoke about him during my first season as manager. I have watched his results since then and he came over to practice at Ipswich after a meeting this season. He seemed really professional and got round Foxhall really well for his first time, so there is a lot of potential in him and there are a lot of good reports on him. I don’t think he could be coming to a better club for his first season and I think he recognises that. There will be a lot of help there for him and he has a great opportunity. Having met him and seen how he works I am sure he will take that opportunity.
Glasgow have put a good team out already and Scunthorpe look strong, they are the two teams that have announced most of their riders so far. It will be the same mind-set as we have during the season though. We are very happy with what we have got and will concentrate on our own performance and what we are doing and let others worry about themselves. On paper we will be one of the strongest teams that everyone will be looking at and we have got to go out and do it on the track.
With the team being done quite early, it is quite nice to have a little break from speedway after a tough year, it has been stressful! However, it is the same as a rider, it is nice to have the break but you soon start to miss it! Hopefully we can start planning a trip away in February as a team for some practice. I will spend some time with Danny helping him with his preparations for the New Year and I suppose I had better concentrate on doing some work and earning some money personally!
Have a great Christmas and see you in March,
I’m happy with the fixture list, I did work tirelessly to bring a Premiership team to give us a tough challenge at the start of the year before heading into the Championship Shield on Good Friday but unfortunately none of our Premiership rivals were able to bring a team early enough for us. We go straight into action but the team will be well prepared with at least a couple of practice days around Foxhall before that and they will have been away to Macon in France at the start of March. They will have spent a lot of time together. With the set race nights, the fixture list has been much easier to do with being able to always present a full team.
Good Friday meetings have been such a tradition at the club for so many years that we have missed it the last couple of years, it is really good to have that back. I’m looking forward to it being against the Championship new boys Lakeside who have put together an extremely strong side, so we couldn’t have a tougher opposition to open up with.
There is no margin for error particularly with our Championship Shield group as it is the smaller group because of the odd number of teams. You can’t afford to lose at home straight away so there is pressure on the boys but they will be well prepared. They are not new to each other, only Michael (Haertel) is new to last year’s press day. They are already interlinking and there is a lot of chat amongst the team about training and techniques, technical stuff about the bikes and latest innovations. All of that information is being shared already and they are a team like you see at the end of a successful season before you even start, so that is really good to see. That is why we went back to putting the same team back together.
With only one away meeting against each team in the league you can’t say you will do better next time after you have learnt about the track. A lot of the team will have learnt from last year so there is no excuse for needing to go back a second time. The whole league being only home and away once adds to the pressure and it is the same pressure for every team. We have got a relatively experienced team in this league. Connor (Mountain) having had a full season, Danyon (Hume) is still the one to travel to all the tracks. We all know what Danyon’s attitude is to his racing and I don’t think that will affect him too much, especially being surrounded by a good team willing to help him. Michael hasn’t been to any tracks of course so with only going once to away tracks he needs to perform to a reasonable standard and I am convinced he will.
A bit like Good Friday the 16 Lap Classic has always been a tradition and the fans love it. It is a unique event to watch eight riders over 16 laps to finish the season off. The riders want to finish the season on a high and win the meeting and it is a real spectacle.
We are renewing a lot of the drainage at the track that was proving to be a problem in the latter part of last year. It didn’t cost us any meetings but it was at the point where the wrong weather at the wrong time would have. That is something we needed to put right straight away. That has been started and is ongoing. As soon as we get to a reasonable stage with that, the exits of both corners are coming in, as the entrances did last year, so we are finishing that project off.
It’s a subtle change but one that is necessary from a safety point of view and I am sure it will enable more racing lines again. It will add to the entertainment and in this case, it will make it safer on the exits, particularly on turn two as that is where we see most of the injuries occur. We have been lucky as we have not had too many here but when they do happen they occur on turn two, so making that wider can only help that. An improved sound system has been given the go-ahead so that is another massive improvement stadium-wise.
The beginning of the winter period was busy for me, we got the team completed very quickly. Heading into the AGM there was a little bit of the unknown with the TV changes and race night changes and all those things that were up in the air. All of that worked out well as far as I am concerned at the AGM and we were in a good position to finish the team after that. That was done quickly which was nice as you can then go to sponsors knowing exactly what team you have and what your chances are. All of our current sponsors are back on board and we have some exciting news to announce at the end of February with regards to sponsors so we are really looking forward to the months ahead.
Thank you for your continued support,
The end of the season has been a tough pill to swallow really. We had a great season and got over hurdles all year with all the injuries we suffered. We maintained our form throughout it all and got to two cup finals. To win nothing is a real kick in the teeth. It is hard to take and it is probably the best team I have ridden in to not win anything.
It was a tough year but we were lucky that we all ride for a great club and have a great manager, a good boss and a great team spirit that carried us through. You speak to any Peterborough fan or rider and they don’t feel they won the Knockout Cup, the feeling is that we threw it away and maybe that is the case. That is sport and that’s how it goes sometimes and you have to take it.
I think I have been in the game long enough to know how it works but I know a lot of lads will have the feeling of ‘what do we have to do to win a trophy?’ That’s sport and that’s the way it goes. I have ridden really well in some races and come last and then not rode well and won a race. It is one of those things and it is hard to take but you move on and learn from it.
I think I was the only one not to get injured until the final meeting! You couldn’t make it up and it has been the story of our season, someone wasn’t looking down on us in a nice way this year! I’ve got a suspected fractured left wrist but I am waiting to hear from the specialist still though. There is obviously a lot of ligament damage to the wrist.
Personally this year wasn’t as good as the year before but that was going to be hard to top after winning the British Championship and getting a silver medal for Team GB. A lot happened last year and I knew it would be tough to top. All in all it was a good year and the form was there most of the time. I had a bad start to the season as I had a few issues behind the scenes but once that was sorted I was back on form and everything was going good until I had a little bike issue towards the end of the year as we got to the Play-Off semi-finals. I brought my Polish engines back over and we were away again so I felt I was riding good but was let down at times by other things.
I know how to deal with the pressure and I try to keep things very basic. Everything is the same and it does not matter what meeting it is or who you are riding against, I treat it the same. I go out and give 100% and that is all I can do and that has worked so far for me in my career and that is how I go into every meeting.
Injuries are part of motorsport. The bikes are not easy to ride don’t get me wrong, they’re a lot harder to ride than ten years ago. However, that is how the sport has evolved and the bikes have evolved and we are aware of how they are and how they react. Sometimes they do get away from you and silly things can happen. My crash was an example of this. Nathan (Greaves) got out of shape and couldn’t avoid me, he clipped me and that was it. That is the way it goes. The bikes could go back to how they were but they won’t because it would cost too much money so I don’t know what the answer is to that one.
I enjoyed my time with Leicester but it was also frustrating. It has been hard going to meetings with no team and you have pretty much lost before you get there, that is not much fun. To be fair, later in the year after they made the team changes it was a lot more enjoyable because we were going away with no pressure on us as we were at the bottom and picking up results, which was really fun. We were going to places that you wouldn’t expect us to get anything from and getting results and wins, the win at Belle Vue was fantastic and who would have thought that would happen. In the end it was great fun and you have to give credit to the Bates family for what they have done, they came in late with little to choose from for the team and stuck with it and didn’t give up.
Ahead of the AGM I like the idea of a fixed race night and that would stop the hindrance of doubling up as there would be no clashes, so I would like to see that come in. I want to ride my bike as much as I can and I absolutely hate missing meetings for clubs I have signed for. I’d also like more teams back in the Championship, it became very northern last year and with the two home and two away meetings the travelling became a killer despite it being nice to have the meetings. I’d like more teams and one at home and one way would be sufficient.
This time of the year is stressful to be honest as we don’t know what is happening in speedway and are in limbo. I am waiting for the AGM and I will be talking to people to try and find out what is going on and get an idea of where it is going. Once the AGM is out the way it is time to negotiate and get the contracts sorted. I would love to get that done before Christmas again as it always makes it more enjoyable knowing I have got two teams that I have signed for. Last year was stressful as I got to February having signed with Coventry and then we got a phone call to tell us they were not running, that was not fun. I want to get all that sorted but other than that I have DIY to sort out at home and the missus has told me I’ve got some decorating to do and after Christmas we will be building bikes and raring to go!
I have loved this year at Ipswich and we have had the best bunch of lads ever, not just riders but mechanics as well and Chris (Louis) and Ritchie (Hawkins). Everyone has mucked in, there has been no hassle in the team either. Sometimes you get a few riders who get under each other’s skin but there has been none of that this year. Everyone has knuckled down and got on and it has been really fun. Because of that people want to ride well and want to win and the way Chris runs the club is very fair. Chris makes you want to ride for him, you get no hassle from Ipswich speedway.
I would like to thank all my sponsors for supporting me again this year and I know I say it every year but without them, none of it would be able to happen. We rely on them majorly and I hope they have had an enjoyable year. I would also like to thank the fans who have been absolutely fantastic this year. I know we have been winning and that is always good but this year has been unreal, even on the road the support has been fantastic, so they deserve a big thank you. I would like to thank my family and Clara for sticking by me. As we have said before, speedway is not a normal lifestyle and not the easiest as you take a lot of it home with you and they take the brunt of it! I would like to thank my mechanics Dave Brabbin and Richard Maull, without them I would not be able to do it. I’d like to thank Ipswich speedway as well, it has been another enjoyable year and it feels like home to me and I want success for the club. That is why this year has been a bit of downer at the end as we have not won anything after being so close but I know how badly Ipswich speedway wants and deserves success and that is what I want to bring to the club.
Have a great Christmas,
Foxhall Rd, Ipswich, Suffolk, IP4 5TL 01473 623640