King's Lynn Stars beaten on opening night of new speedway season as Ipswich Witches take East Anglian bragging rights
King’s Lynn Stars paid for a sluggish start in their first post-pandemic league speedway meeting tonight against old foes Ipswich Witches in a 43-47 loss.
It’s been 606 days since the Stars last tackled Premiership racing - and despite being outgated in the first half in damp conditions they were eventually worth the wait with three successive 5-1 maximum race wins to end the meeting.
The parade was cancelled and the start put back to 8.15pm due to both unsettled weather - hail was forecast for Monday afternoon - and a sellout Adrian Flux Arena crowd getting used to a first post-pandemic clash, with capacity for the stadium set at around 1,590. Face masks and social distancing were applied.
Club boss Keith ‘Buster’ Chapman and his track team needed to do some urgent work to the surface after a downpour which fell an hour before the start.
The visitors were without Nicolai Klindt who is unavailable in 2021 due to travel restrictions and the visitors operated rider replacement.
Ipswich elected skipper Danny King to take ‘r/r’ straight away so all eyes were on who won the opening heat in this momentous derby season-opener. This was restarted, then Lynn’s Ty Proctor broke the tapes and debutant Lewis Bridger replaced the Aussie.
King led home Jason Crump, Lynn number one Craig Cook and Bridger for a 1-5: first blood to Ipswich.
Making his Ipswich bow was three-time world champion Crump who won the Knockout Cup with Lynn 21 years ago.
Anders Rowe stole in front of Bridger, who headed team-mate Ryan Kinsley and Drew Kemp in a shared 3-3 reserves’ race.
The impressive Thomas Jorgensen won Heat 3 in another 3-3 with skipper Lewis Kerr trailing at the back.
Peterborough’s Ulrich Ostergaard replaced Jordan Stewart, who’s waiting for a Premiership visa, and Ostergaard performed well before tumbling in his final Heat 14 outing.
Ipswich continued to outgate their rivals and took a 23-37 interval lead. Lynn’s fortunes wre summed up in Heat 9 when they were on for a 5-1 but captain Kerr’s bike failed and Jorgensen was pipped by King.
Ipswich sealed victory with three heats to spare thanks to superb reserve Anders Rowe’s third race win whereas opposing reserves Bridger and Kinsley overall strugged on their Lynn senior debuts.
As the track dried the hosts gradually took control of the second half: Cook and Riss blasted through Heat 13; Kerr and Bridger followed them with a maximum in the next and Riss crowned the night with an excellent battle and overtaking of Crump, whose tumble forced King to lay his bike down.
Lynn team boss Peter Schroeck revealed on-track continental competitor for 2021 Robert Lambert had sent a good luck message to his Norfolk home club.
Heat 1 - King, Crump, Cook, Bridger; 1-5
H2 - Rowe, Bridger, Kinsley, Kemp; 3-3 (4-8)
H3 - Thomas Jorgensen, Heeps, Ostergaard, Kerr; 3-3 (7-11)
H4 - Rowe, Riss, King, Kinsley (ret); 2-4 (9-15)
H5 - Jorgensen, Kerr, Heeps, Crump (fell, sportingly remounted); 5-1 (14-16)
H6 - King, Kemp, Cook, Proctor; 1-5 (15-21)
H7 - Ostergaard, Heeps, Riss, Bridger; 1-5 (16-26)
H8 - Crump, Rowe, Proctor, Kinsley; 1-5 (17-31)
H9 - King, Jorgensen, Kemp, Kerr (bike failed); 2-4 (19-35)
H10 - Cook, Ostergaard, Proctor, Heeps; 4-2 (23-37. Interval).
H11 - Riss, Crump, Rowe, Bridger, 3-3 (26-40)
H12 - Rowe, Jorgensen, Heeps, Kinsley, 2-4 (28-44). Ipswich seal victory
H13 - Cook, Riss, King, Crump, 5-1 (33-45).
H14 - re-run: Kerr, Bridger, Kemp (Ostergaard excluded); 5-1 (38-46)
H15 - Cook, Riss, King, Crump (fell); 5-1 (final score 43-47).
Scores, Lynn: Craig Cook 11, Ty Proctor 2, Thomas Jorgensen 10, Lewis Kerr (capt.) 5+1, Erik Riss 10+2, Lewis Bridger 4+1, Ryan Kinsley 1+1.
Ipswich: Jason Crump 7+1, Nicolai Klindt R/R, Cameron Heeps 6+1, Ulrich Ostergaard (guest) 6+1, Danny King (capt.) 12, Anders Rowe 12+2, Drew Kemp 4+1.
In their previous Premiership outing, the Stars lost 39-51 at home to Poole Pirates on Thursday, September 19, 2019.
After that the coronavirus pandemic put paid to any further league track action until now.
Congratulations to anyone who can remember the unfamiliar Minors & Brady Stars team that day in autumn 2019 as it contained two guests in 2007 British Grand Prix winner Chris Harris and Australian Josh MacDonald at reserve.