Jubilant Edinburgh Monarchs team manager Alex Harkess today hailed reserve star Steve Worrall as his “ace in the pack”.
It came after his band of racers left arch rivals Glasgow Tigers totally deflated by winning the second leg of their Air Fence challenge fixture at Ashfield yesterday, clinching the Spring Trophy.
Monarchs’ 47-43 victory secured their first silverware of the season by a comfortable aggregate margin of 99-81 following their 52-38 home success at Armadale on Friday.
The result is an early a setback for the new-look Tigers, who are desperate to be the dominant force north of the border this season. However, victory ensures Monarchs have laid down a pretty firm marker that they have no intention of surrendering that position.
Worrall scored 11 points from his four rides and was beaten just once by Tigers’ young Dane Anders Thomsen in heat eight, a race which turned out to have an unexpected and costly twist for the Monarchs’ rider.
After both men crossed the finishing line, Worrall crashed into the safety fence as he eased down, causing considerable damage to his bike.
He explained: “It was my fault and it was just an accident, all a bit silly really, but a nightmare as well.
“It will cost me about £700 to fix my bike and me and my mechanic are trying hard to get it back into racing condition.
“I’m going to Belle Vue today for a practice. It’s their press call, so I hope we can get things sorted out.
“Apart from that mishap I was pretty pleased with how I rode because Ashfield is a place I have struggled to get round in the past. But the track was very good and that made a big difference to me and I went there with a different attitude.
“It has not been a good weekend for Glasgow in the two meetings. I think they will see their defeats as something of a blow. But they have new young riders in their team this year and once they find their feet, I think Glasgow will be fine.”
The scores were tied 39-39 with two races left, but Monarchs rattled in a brace of 4-2 advantages to make sure of victory, which was never in any real doubt according to Harkess.
“It was always our plan to win both legs and we were never in any real trouble,” he said. “Most of our side have been to Ashfield many times before and it holds no secrets for them.
“We did have an ace in the pack in Steve who was quite superb at reserve. We were winning most of the races and did that over the two matches and that was the secret. We lost a 5-1 on the day but it didn’t really matter.
“Glasgow only won five races out of 15, and only managed four wins at Armadale on Friday. And that tells the whole story really.”
Asked if he thought the result might cause concern in the Tigers camp, Harkess replied: “That’s not my problem, Edinburgh is my problem. I’m quite happy with how we have started the season, it has gone as we had hoped and we’ll move on from there.”
But Monarchs do have one worry of their own after American Aaron Fox failed to score again. Harkess said: “It has come as a complete shock to Aaron to be a member of a team, but we will work on him to get his bikes sorted out and get him going.
“He struggled with his bike from the word go and did not really look competitive enough to score a point. I hope he is not getting anxious, but he will see everybody else getting points, and the pressure might start to build up. He is going down to spend a whole day with Craig Cook and his dad on Tuesday and they should sort him out mechanically, all Aaron needs now is a confidence booster.”
Monarchs No.1 Cook picked up his first maximum at Ashfield as he cruised to an untroubled haul of 15 points.
Team-mate Max Fricke, who didn’t find the chequered flag on Friday, remedied that by defeating Dimitri Berge and Kevin Wolbert in heat ten on his way to a handy return of eight points from his four rides.
Glasgow: Harrison 12, Pijper 7, Thomsen 6, Wolbert 5, Lemon 5, Berge 4, Lykke 4.
Monarchs: Cook 15, Worrall 11, Fricke 8, Masters 8, Sedgemen 3, Sneddon 2.