Ipswich Witches team boss Ritchie Hawkins has stoked up the local rivalry ahead of next week's big opening clash between the Witches and King's Lynn Stars.

The two teams clash at Adrian Flux Arena, on Monday, May 17, as the speedway season gets underway in Britain.

“Picking up points on the road is really important," Hawkins said.

Sudbury Mercury: Ipswich Witches boss, Ritchie Hawkins.Ipswich Witches boss, Ritchie Hawkins. (Image: © Copyright Stephen Waller)

"It's opening night at Lynn and anything can happen. You have got to target going to King’s Lynn for a win and opening night could play into their hands, it could play into ours.

“If we can get off to a good start you have a big advantage.

"In 2019 we took two four-point wins at Peterborough and that was massive. We had 14 points from 14 points against them, so those two four-point wins at Peterborough, the cushion those wins gave us to keep us in the play-offs when our form slipped.

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“As the years have gone on anyone can win anywhere on their day now, the leagues are a lot tighter and you get teams winning home and away.

"If we don’t win at King’s Lynn it is not a massive disaster, we just have to pick the points up somewhere else which we should be quite capable of doing.”

Winning the play-offs remains the aim for both clubs but in a world of uncertainty with the ever-changing travel restrictions impacting riders and the possibility of positive Covid-19 tests amongst teams, the Ipswich boss is just pleased to get back racing in 2021.

“The other factor is that you don’t know how people are going to come back after a year off, how their form will be," he said.

"Our opening home meeting will be tough, but they could all well be tough this year and the league could be very tight.

"It’s a six-team league with four into the play-offs, we are the biggest club in East Anglia, so if we carry on with that we will be in the play-offs."

Ipswich's opening home meeting of the season is against Belle Vue, on May 20.