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THE Premiership Play Offs begin in Manchester on Monday, September 18 when the Belle Vue ‘ATPI’ Aces take on the Ipswich Witches in the first leg of their semi-final clash.

The TruMix Witches will be feeling confident after claiming the 2023 Knockout Cup in a shootout with fellow top flight title contenders Sheffield at Foxhall last week.

But the ATPI Aces are also feeling good about their chances of defending their hard-won league crown, despite being without the services of Charles Wright and Norick Blodorn.

Blodorn was withdrawn from the SGP2 Series in Vojens on medical grounds by the FIM, with Ben Cook coming in as a guest replacement and the club will operate rider replacement for Wright at No.4.

The Witches, meanwhile, have called on Cool Running Colts captain Jack Smith, much to Belle Vue’s disappointment in his decision to race for the opposition in such a crucial match.

He deputises for Dan Thompson as Ipswich’s Rising Star, who is still struggling with a shoulder injury while the Witches also sweat on the fitness of Jason Doyle following a crash in Saturday’s Grand Prix.

It guarantees to be an epic spectacle as the 2023 Play Offs get underway in Manchester between the reigning league champions and the newly crowned KOC Champions.

With top stars like Dan Bewley and Emil Sayfutdinov set to lock horns once again at the National Speedway Stadium, the battle for the Premiership League crown will be intense.

Aces CEO Mark Lemon said: “In terms of a semi-final, Monday’s meeting couldn’t be any tighter, especially with the Ipswich Witches having garnered momentum recently.

“Unfortunately, as luck always seems to have it, the pre-play offs injury jinx has struck us again to prevent Charles and Norick from taking their place, and we of course wish them a speedy recovery.

“And while this may put us in a slightly different light – going from favourites to underdogs it certainly doesn’t take anything away from what is expected to be a tense semi-final.

“The Play Offs are a completely different experience to everything that has come before. We start again from scratch, it’s a fresh challenge and I know the boys are well up for and have what it takes.”

Belle Vue ‘ATPI’ Aces: Brady Kurtz (C) 8.33, Tom Brennan 6.16, Jaimon Lidsey 7.82, Charles Wright R/R 6.55, Dan Bewley 8.00, Ben Cook (G) 5.80, Connor Bailey RS; TM: Mark Lemon

Ipswich ‘TruMix Witches: Emil Sayfutdinov 10.14, Erik Riss 5.02, Danny King (C) 7.03, Danyon Hume 4.00, Jason Doyle 9.21, Keynan Rew 4.00, Jack Smith (G) RS; TM: Ritchie Hawkins


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