Ipswich Witches produced a strong and determined performance to get their Premiership campaign off to a fine start with victory over Belle Vue at Foxhall Stadium on Thursday night with a 47-43 victory.

The home side, who had lost all their opening four League Cup clashes, never looked back in this one, leading from the start and winning deservedly.

Led by the flying Troy Batchelor, who enjoyed easily his best meeting so far in an Ipswich race jacket, the Witches hit the Aces early on, and although the Manchester side picked up a tactical ride 5-1 in heat nine, the home side settled down to take hold of the clash.

The Aces did however get another maximum in the final heat to obtain a losing bonus point, something that will have frustrated the Witches.

However, that apart, Ipswich were excellent. They had 10 heat winners and showed real mettle as they attacked the Foxhall track. It was just what they needed and will give them plenty of confidence going into the summer.

It was a cool, but dry evening and another decent Foxhall crowd was in attendance.

Jason Doyle was in sharp from in the first heat as he passed the fast-starting Jye Etheridge as the Witches took an early lead.

Paul Starke led from start to finish in the next as Anders Rowe passed Norick Blodorn on lap two to double the home side's lead, as Matej Zagar shot from the tapes to win the Aces first race of the night.

Batchelor rode a fine first and second turn to take away heat four, as Danny King won the next, the Witches making a strong start to the meeting and were already 18-12 ahead.

Doyle made it two wins on the spin for him as Brady Kurtz and Erik Riss enjoyed a right ding-dong for second and third, with the Aces man taking it in a cracking heat six.

Starke fell on the third turn of the next with Batchelor well ahead at the time. But in the re-run, Batchelor did it again, flying to a second impressive victory.

The impressive Tom Brennan led from tapes to flag in heat eight and Zagar came in as a tactical rider in heat nine with the Aces eight down. And the move worked as he and Kurtz shot to the front to win to halve the Witches lead to four at 29-25.

Starke packed up when in third in heat 11 as Batchelor won again, but Starke was out in the next to produce a superb race alongside King in what was the Witches first maximum of the night.

Doyle and Batchelor really should have clinched it in heat 13, but got in a pickle down the back straight, as Batchelor almost went into his team-mate, before Barker and Starke sealed the deal in heat 14 for the home side.

Top Witch: Troy Batchelor: Gated superbly all night and could have had more than 10 but for an unfortunate heat 13


Ipswich: Jason Doyle 9; Erik Riss 6+1; Danny King 9; Ben Barker 3+2; Troy Batchelor 10; Paul Starke 7+1; Anders Rowe 3

Belle Vue: Max Fricke 3+1; Jye Etheridge 5+1; Matej Zagar 11+2; Charles Wright 5+2; Brady Kurtz 11+1; Norick Blödorn 0; Tom Brennan 8.

*bonus point.

Heat details

1. Doyle, Etheridge, Riss, Fricke 56.4 4-2

2. Starke, Brennan, Rowe, Blodorn 57.2 8-4

3. Zagar, King, Barker, Wright 56.2 11-7

4. Batchelor, Brennan, Kurtz, Rowe 57.5 14-10

5. King, Etheridge, Barker, Fricke 57.0 18-12

6. Doyle, Kurtz, Riss, Blodorn 58.2 22-14

7. Batchelor, Zagar, Wright, Starke (f/x) 57.5 25-17

8. Brennan, Rowe, Riss, Etheridge 57.8 28-20

9. Kurtz, Zagar (tac), King, Barker 57.1 29-25

10. Riss, Zagar, Wright, Doyle 57.1 32-28

11. Batchelor, Fricke, Etheridge, Starke (e/f) 58.2 35-31

12: King, Starke, Brennan, Zagar 58.3 40-32

13: Doyle, Kurtz, Fricke, Batchelor 58.1 43-35

14: Wright, Starke, Barker, Blodorn 58.6 46-38

15. Kurtz, Zagar, Batchelor, King 58.8 47-43

Witches 3 points, Aces 1 point

P Pts

Belle Vue 2 4
Wolverhampton 1 3
Ipswich 1 3
Sheffield 1 3
King’s Lynn 1 0
Peterborough 2 0