WITCHES TEAM MANAGER
Wednesday 26th July 2017
Popular rider Nico Covatti says he is delighted to be back on a bike after a nasty crash in April whilst racing for the ‘Tru7.com’ Witches left him with a broken wrist.
The Argentinean born Italian says it was a massively frustrating time for him to get injured with so much to look forward to in 2017.
“This should have been a really good year for me with a lot of high expectations and good things to come in the British leagues and in the rest of Europe with the large amount of meetings I had in the diary such as the GP Qualifiers, the SEC, World Cup, Italian Championship and many more,” said Covatti. “To have the accident in April, so early was a huge frustration and it something that no one wants but these things happen.”
The 29-year-old was operated on twice after the crash at Redcar but returned to Italy to continue his rehabilitation and says he is now ready to return to action way ahead of schedule.
“After the accident I was operated on twice in England and after that I returned to Italy where I could continue my rehabilitation alongside my friends and my girlfriend, so it was a lot more comfortable for me with also my doctor nearby.
“I started the long road to recovery but during that frustrating period I am very happy because I made faster progress than the doctors anticipated. They said it would be a year before I returned but I have been training for three months here in Italy and did my first testing In Lonigo and I felt good on the bike although I lacked a bit of strength. After four or five more practice sessions I am at 100% again and I have trained a lot in the gym and on the bike and I am feeling good and ready to return to the track competitively.”
Covatti is hopeful of finding a team place in England again and has plenty of meetings lined up on the continent too after working hard to get back to full fitness.
“When the doctors told me that I wouldn’t return to the track this season, it was a really sad time for me. But the days and the months went by and I realised I could return this season. With a lot of effort I have achieved that and I am ready.
“I don’t have a team in England and I would love to get a team place somewhere before the end of the season. I have meetings in Italy planned and I will continue training for this. I am ready to return to England and I have all my team and equipment ready. I have not had any contact yet from anyone but it would be great to return this season after starting so badly.”
Off the track, 2017 will go down as one to remember for Nico as he and his girlfriend are expecting a baby girl in January 2018 and he could not hide his excitement at the news.
“This year has been one of the worst for me in the sport seeing as I have been out of action since April. But more importantly in my personal life I am very happy because I am going to become a father as my girlfriend and I are expecting a baby girl in January.
“My family will come from Argentina and this is the best thing that has happened to me and I am happy for this. It will be a difficult year to forget for the good things that have happened and the bad things. I am happy though and to be back on the bike is great and I have a meeting in Germany coming up alongside international meetings and I am delighted to be back.”
Words: Henry ChardMore News
WITCHES TEAM MANAGER
It has been a very positive month and we are ending it in a stronger position than when we started. It has been a strong month, we have been solid at home and have picked up quite a few points on the road. The Edinburgh result was a massive disappointment but we picked ourselves up well. There were really good performances at Peterborough and at Glasgow and the Glasgow performance was a big point in our season. To get a point after starting so badly, it proved to the team what they are capable of and we took a lot of confidence from that meeting leading into Peterborough. Then winning at Berwick was good and we put in a good performance at Newcastle and were unlucky not to win there.
We came under a bit of criticism for our away performances and people pay their money and are entitled to their own opinion. I know I am confident and have a solid plan in how I want the season to be going and the things I am looking for and I think I have it sussed out on how we build towards the play-offs. It’s upsetting to drop a point here and there but to me it is not important, the only thing important to me is the play-offs and that is all that matters. That is our focus and what I am building towards, people are entitled to their opinions but I wouldn’t change anything or any of my decisions.
Our reaction to set backs all season has been excellent and these are the guys we wanted to bring in. Edinburgh was a massive disappointment but then to go to Glasgow and show that fighting spirit after a bad start shows what we are about and they proved a lot to themselves. We are doing well and it is going ok but the season starts in the next few weeks and we have got ourselves in a good position but we need to push on and consolidate our play-off spot. It all comes down to those meetings and obviously the cup is another competition we want to win.
I would expect to change the riding order again from now until the end of the season. Sometimes you are looking at seeing if something works and sometimes you are looking at the opposition team and thinking if we ride in a different order it might help certain riders. I will probably change it again in the next month and we might change it if we reach the play-offs, you don’t know, it is what I feel will get the best out of everyone.
Danyon (Hume) was going to be massively hard to replace as he was averaging nearly five but Nathan (Greaves) has come in after a tough year last year and nearly doubled his average and it has been like for like really. He has fitted into the team well and it has been a good move for him and us really. I’m really pleased for Connor (Mountain), he is getting his rewards for sticking in there during his tough patch. We spoke a month ago and I told him you have to keep riding and stick in there and he is getting the rewards now and his performances have improved. He is showing if you keep doing everything right off the track eventually you get the rewards and he needs to keep pushing on.
Rory (Schlein) has performed how I expected really, he is a class act and I have never doubted that and I always expected him to do what he has done. He has been a massive part of this team and has been a massive part of the team spirit. His presence in the team adds points onto everyone else in many ways. Rory gets a hard time but I have got to say he has been a positive influence and has been a great signing and that was the reason we brought him in.
We know what we need to do at home from now until the end of the season. Looking at it I felt we needed a couple more away wins but teams in and around the play-off spots are starting to slip up or taking points off each other. If we concentrate on our own performance and get as many points as we can I’m sure we will do alright.
The Championship Fours is coming up soon and the five riders that will make up our squad all like Peterborough. It is a great competition to win and I have a winner’s medal myself and I know how good a feeling it is. We enter every competition with a strong team looking to win it but it is all about how you perform on the day with the Fours. It is a tough meeting and I’m sure there will be a lot of Ipswich fans up there and we want to send them home happy.
See you all soon,
With the play-offs it is all about peaking at the right time and we certainly have not peaked yet so hopefully it is pointing to the fact that we will peak come September. The first job is to qualify for the play-offs and the second job is to peak just before them and be at your best. At the moment it is pointing towards that way. Our away results were disappointing in the last month because we have high expectations of the team and they have high expectations of themselves. Frustrating is the right word to use rather than disappointing. We were in winning positions and through breakdowns, crashes and sudden lapses of concentration we let it slip away and it ended up costing us the odd point here and there. With a clear head looking back we are still picking up enough points to keep us where we need to be and we have got to be pleased with that.
Another part of the frustration is that we seem to be able to stretch teams in the second half of meetings at home but we have had a few collapses away. We seem to perform the opposite home and away which is a strange thing that I know is frustrating Ritchie (Hawkins) and he is constantly looking at it and trying to work out why that is. That is something that is being worked on.
I think confidence is the key factor behind our home form this season. They are all confident in their ability at home. Whenever a team is dominant at home it is because the team enjoy being there. You see it from time to time and it is something we have definitely got in abundance at Foxhall this year.
I think some opposition teams are beaten on the basis that they don’t like our track but some teams are well beaten before they get here because they feel we are a strong side. I think the same can be said of any of the top four of five teams in the Championship this year, it’s a combination of things. I don’t think this year there is a particular dislike for our track, I just think teams know that we are very confident on it.
We haven’t had many meetings where all seven are firing yet this season. We have had enough firepower in each department of the team, the heat leaders, second string and reserves which has kept us solid. The day when the whole one to seven perform to the best of their ability, someone is going to get hammered! That rarely happens in any team though so it is not something that I am concerned about and every department has fired more often or not and therefore we are strong particularly at home.
You have only got to watch as an example the video from heat 13 of our home meeting against Newcastle, they always seem to be heat 13, but there is some brilliant racing at Foxhall this year. It’s corner to corner, passing and re-passing. That hasn’t necessarily always been there in the past but you have to have the right calibre of rider and four of them in a race, or at least a pair of them. I don’t think all of the racing aspects of speedway is down to the tracks. Some it is and a lot is down to the bikes and a lot of it is down to the disparity within the teams of the ability of riders. It’s down to a combination of things and I see them as something the sport as a whole needs to work on. I hear the riders when they talk about tracks and I do understand what they are saying, yes they need to be right and as safe as possible but the bikes need to be looked at equally or more so.
The World Cup was fantastic and it is always an event I enjoy, the racing was top notch. Team GB gave a predictable performance. They gave a more dominant performance than I had expected at King’s Lynn against the Aussies and that was nice to see. The mind-set and belief was there on that track that they could win that meeting and that was very good. In terms of their performance in the final in Poland it wasn’t a shock. They gave their all but lacked experience in every department. From how to set the bike up, the engines they took with them and how to ride the tracks. It is not a shock and I don’t think many expected them to perform better than they did. They are a long way behind in that competition on those tracks and it is a numbers game. The more top riders we have who are able to hold down spots in Sweden and Poland the better chance we have of fielding a team that can compete in that competition on those tracks. That is a long way off though.
Gino (Manzares) represented Team USA and he is desperate to come back and it won’t be this year now because of the transfer deadline at the end of the month but he did himself no harm at all by showing European and Championship clubs that he can compete at a high level and on all sorts of tracks. I enjoyed watching the Americans, they are a young bunch who gave everything and proved they have got talent coming through.
I think it is coming down to the current top three in the Grand Prix that can win it now. (Maciej) Janowski has the impetus and has found a new belief at the highest level and is riding really well and trapping unbelievably well. If he maintains that starting then he will be hard to beat. I stil feel after last year’s problems and this year’s problems that he is only now overcoming that Doyley (Jason Doyle) isn’t going to throw it away this year. He won’t need to either as he has a tiger on his tail in Janowski and it is going to move to a few of the bigger faster tracks where (Patryk) Dudek is more comfortable and scoring more points so he has a battle on his hands.
There has been a lot of talk about what went on at King’s Lynn this month and I can’t talk specifically about King’s Lynn as I wasn’t there and I don’t know whether the track was dangerous so I won’t comment on that. I do feel in instances like that though that there was a lack of thought for the people who had paid their money to be there, so that is hugely disappointing. Obviously if the track was that bad it needed work doing to it and it needed to be done quickly so that people were not sat around twiddling their thumbs. There was a catalogue of errors that night and I think a little bit too much fuss is being made of track conditions. Tracks in this country with these bikes will always be more difficult than Scandinavian and Polish tracks. They are a completely different material and the material on the continent is more forgiving and yes of course, we would all love to have a Belle Vue but we don’t have a clean sheet of paper. We all work with stock cars, dog tracks and we work within confines of other people’s stadiums. I think it is time for someone to take control of the whole overall situation and think about engines, tracks and attitudes really.
The Pairs was the first opportunity for silverware and being rained off was frustrating for everybody. It was the only option really, no one at 6.15pm could be sure the rain would stop when it did. It was forecast to stop but by then the straights were very wet as they hadn’t been covered and the bottom line was that the riders were shaking their heads saying conditions had deteriorated too much by that point. We have the Fours to look forward to and we have a solid top four so there is no reason why we don’t have a good chance to put some silverware in the cabinet.
We need the summer crowds and we need to build up the atmosphere and give the lads the push they need to continue the job they have been doing. We maybe need to improve away and keep the focus and not get to points in meetings and then throw it away on occasions like we have. We have some fine tuning to do and the best way to do that is to have great atmosphere at home so the lads know they have the support at home. It would be great to build it up to a crescendo and it would be nice to qualify for the play-offs comfortably without having to go away and win meetings. However, with this year’s Championship looking how it is, I think it will go down to the wire, so a strong finish is what we need.
Thank you for your continued support,
We are just over the halfway stage now and we are in a solid position. It would be nice to be a bit higher up but that’s the way it is. It is all about making the play-offs at the end of the day and where we are now is looking good and as long as we continue to get points away from home we should stay in that top four. We were hit by injuries at the start of the season and that punished us but we are back to a full team now and that is showing. We are picking up points on the road and the reserves are really doing their thing at the moment and have stepped up in the last month.
I certainly think we have the team that can do the job this year but it is speedway at the end of the day and we need to stay injury free and hope nothing silly happens. Our first port of call has to be the play-offs and then it is down to four meetings at the end of the day but we have the team to do the job, let’s just get there first.
We are really confident at home and are happy with our track and feel we can beat anyone at our track. I keep saying it but I feel we can beat anyone anywhere. Everyone has the set up at home and likes the track and it is important to keep that 100% record at home and I feel we will be pushing for that. If we lose at home it will be a huge disappointment but I don’t see it happening with how strong we have been so far, but we can’t be big-headed and need to continue that level of performance. The track has a bit of dirt on it and I don’t think many tracks have dirt on it these days. We ride it more than anyone else and have the set up for it, that is all it is down to I think.
Ritchie (Hawkins) has tinkered with the riding order over the last month but we all know each other and I don’t think it matters who rides with who. We are all able to adapt and are all happy to ride where we are put. Everyone gets on well and the team spirit is great and we are just like a load of mates riding our bikes and that is why we are having success so far this season.
It was a good win for Leicester on Monday against a depleted King’s Lynn side but we were unlucky the week before against Swindon live on TV, when we had a four man team and still nearly took the win, just falling short in the end. It’s been a tough season with a lot of team changes and injuries and it has not gone our way. We have a consistent run coming up now and hopefully we can get our team back with Pawel (Przedpelski) coming back in a few weeks which will be nice and hopefully we can finish the season strongly and get off the bottom of the table. Leicester have had a tough few years and it will be nice to have an upturn in form.
I didn’t watch the World Cup as I was riding but we did great at King’s Lynn and the boys did what they needed to do, it was a fantastic performance. It was the same old story in Europe though, it is a different ball game and I’m sure they will be disappointed but hopefully they can learn from it and push on for next year. Personally, it was disappointing to miss out. I like riding in Europe as it suits my style but at the end of the day Rosco (Alun Rossiter) has to pick the team he thinks is best for the job and will upset someone along the way. To narrow it down to five is tough and it wasn’t my year unfortunately.
We have the Championship Fours coming up in August and we have built a top heavy team, starting with two 2.00 reserves at the start of the season. I’m not sure what four will be going to the Fours but whatever four it is, we are one of the strongest. It is ours for the taking and we need to go there and do the business.
The Grand Prix at Cardiff got a lot of people talking with the quality of racing and it takes a lot of different things to get to that elite level. It is experience, it is confidence, its equipment, it is everything really. Cookie (Craig Cook) struggled and I thought he would be better having had experience of it before, so I’m not sure what was going on. I’m sure he will be disappointed with his performance. It is a tough one as these guys are the best in the world, they have the best equipment and are ultra-professional and if you are going to compete you have to have the same as them but you also need the confidence. If you do not have that you are going to struggle. If you go out there and you are confident at the tapes and you make a start and are leading in a race, you are probably going to win it. You could have the same bike and the same rider, but if he is not confident and comes out of the first corner last, he is not going to win the race. It really is down to confidence, you need to make it into that first corner ahead.
There has been a bit of talk about how different the bike are these days compared to in the past. The way the bikes reacts these days is very different to a few years ago. They are really short stroke engines and they are actually called ‘babies’ because they have such a short stroke. They are baby offset engines that we run now. Basically, it means they react a lot harder and quicker to anything. For example, if there was a rut or a hole or a bit of dirt, the bike wants to come up on one wheel a lot more and I think that makes them harder to ride. If you can imagine riding closely against another rider and the bike lifts, there is a chance you are going to crash and take him with you. That’s why you see a lot more slicker tracks these days, so that we don’t do that and we can commit to racing. It is a tough one because if you do get it right they are very fast but obviously if you get it wrong it is costly.
The away side of things is key from now until the end of the season and we need points from every away meeting I think and I believe we can do that. We need to go away confident and enjoying ourselves and if we do that we will come away with something.
All the best,
Foxhall Rd, Ipswich, Suffolk, IP4 5TL 01473 623640