Monday, July 15, 2024
Oxford SpeedwaySpires

REACTION: “At the end of the day, we’re still second in the league table and we know how we’ve now got a very strong side throughout and we’re going to be tough to beat, as we proved tonight, by keeping so close to a very good Ipswich side, despite being one man down. I’m proud of the way the boys battled tonight.”

OXS Oxford Spires lost 39-45 at Ipswich’s Foxhall Heath stadium last night (Thursday), as their Suffolk opponents replaced Spires at the top of the ROWE Motor Oil Premiership table.

It was a supreme effort by Spires, after they were reduced to six riders by the non-appearance of Rohan Tungate, who was left stranded in Poland after missing his flight due to heavy traffic. With a limited number of potential replacements on hand, Oxford Charger Jacob Clouting was given a very late call-up, but was unable to make it to Foxhall Heath.

Spires took the lead three times in the meeting and were still only two points adrift heading into Heat 13.

Scott Nicholls, the captain of Oxford Cheetahs and guesting for Spires in place of the injured Lewis Kerr, top scored on 12 points, and beat Ipswich No 1 Emil Sayfutdinov in Heat 1, with Maciej Janowski (on his Foxhall Heath debut) almost joining him, but losing out to the Russian on the final bend.

Due to his absence of Tungate, Charles Wright was Oxford’s sole representative in three races, but still scored 10 points.

However, arguably the two most impressive Spires were the two reserves. Erik Riss, on his debut for Spires, won his opening two rides and scored seven points. He was another to defeat Sayfutdinov, when he joined Chris Harris for a 5-1 in Heat 6.

Meanwhile, 16-year-old Ashton Boughen won his first-ever race at Premiership level in Heat 4 and defeated 2017 World Champion Jason Doyle in the process with a sensational tapes-to-flag victory in the third fastest time of the night.

Due to the threat of rain, the Ipswich track was prepared slick and passing was at a premium. The rain arrived around halfway through and simply got harder. After Ipswich took a match-winning 3-3 in Heat 14, which saw Nicholls as the sole Oxford rider as a tactical substitute, the meeting was abandoned before the concluding Heat 15 with the result to stand.

Team manager Peter Schroeck said: “It’s been one of those days today. Rohan did everything he could to get over here. There was a traffic hold up in Poland and, as a result, he missed his flight. After that, he drove 200km to another airport, only for the same to happen to him again.

“We contacted every rider we could of a suitable average, which is 75% of Rohan’s average. No-one was available, and in the end Jacob Clouting agreed to do it, but he couldn’t get away from work early.

“No-one is harder on me than myself and I know I made a mistake in Heat 14 and could have put a reserve out with Scott. I’m normally clued up, but there was so much going on towards the end of the meeting and I missed an opportunity there and that does frustrate me. But at the end of the day, the only way we could have got a win would have been to also gain a heat advantage over Sayfutdinov and Doyle in Heat 15, when Ipswich had pick of gate positions.

“I think it’s important to also focus on the positives and there were plenty of those. Scott was quality, while Charles had a really tough job tonight, because it was two-against-one in three of his races but he still scored double points.

“Erik put in a very encouraging debut for Spires from reserve and he was on for a double-figure score until the conditions started to deteriorate.

“Ashton put in an unbelievable ride to leave Jason Doyle – a former World Champion – in his wake in Heat 4. That was an incredible way to win his first ride at the top level and shows how fast he is and how talented he is.

“At the end of the day, we’re still second in the league table and we know how we’ve now got a very strong side throughout and we’re going to be tough to beat, as we proved tonight, by keeping so close to a very good Ipswich side, despite being one man down. I’m proud of the way the boys battled tonight.”

Ipswich Witches 45: Emil Sayfutdinov 9, Jordan Jenkins 0, Danny King 7+1, Adam Ellis 7+3, Jason Doyle 9+2, Keynan Rew 8, Dan Thompson 5+1.

OXS Oxford Spires 39: Maciej Janowski 3+1, Scott Nicholls 12, Charles Wright 10, Rohan Tungate DNR, Chris Harris 3+1, Erik Riss 7, Ashton Boughen 4.

Photo: Charles Wright scored 10 points at Ipswich (pic: Steve Edmunds)