Team manager Alex Harkess today admitted that Edinburgh Monarchs will be under severe scrutiny at Armadale this season until the new-look speedway squad can hit top gear.
Monarchs endured more frustration today when tonight’s match with Redcar Bears was postponed due to a waterlogged track, but Harkess told the Evening News: “Every match creates a situation for us that we hope won’t be a problem, but anything can happen, especially at this time of the year when the weather can affect track conditions. Once our team face a track surface they are used to, they will be okay.
“However, there are some in the team who still have to find their feet which means others in the team have to perform. I think right now we are vulnerable, but as each week passes this will be less so.”
Harkess has seen signs of encouragement, notably last week when Monarchs came back from six points down to finally overcome Workington Comets in front of their own supporters.
“That was very pleasing and we were all delighted with the performance. We know what is required from everyone. We have five riders who should now be established and hope they will take the pressure off the other two members of the side.”
Monarchs, however, slipped to a heavy 57-36 defeat in the return fixture at Workington’s Derwent Park last Saturday in which senior reserve Max Clegg failed to score.
And Harkess concedes Clegg must do better. “I don’t know if Max is placing too much pressure on himself. But he is doing nothing away from home at the moment. If he was getting a few good scores it would be different.
“He got seven at home last Friday but he should have done a lot better.
“He also needs to pick up points away from home because he is riding against three-point riders, who on paper, are no better than he is.
“Max never looked like he was going to get anything at Workington which is a big and fast circuit. Max has been there before and should have been more competitive. Everyone perhaps forgets that he is still a young lad and I wouldn’t like to think he is stagnating. I don’t think he is and neither should we be putting any more pressure on him.”
In contrast Clegg’s team-mate Erik Riss is beginning to display his all-round motorcycling pedigree, top scoring with 14 points at Workintgon.
“It’s only what we have been expecting him to do,” said Harkess. “He is ready to make the next step up in his career and I think he will soon.”
Riss now occupies the tough No.2 spot in the Monarchs team from the No.4 role and he is impressing. Said Harkess: “He was very good in winning the first race at Workington. But when you think back to last season when we used the rider replacement facility at No.2 for a spell, Erik was given the first race and he always did very well. He had no hang-ups about it at all.
“He doesn’t like it when he fails to win and that is also very encouraging.”
One big name who failed to shine at Workington was Ryan Fisher despite winning his first ride but Harkess believes in the Californian. “After he won his first race he seemed to lack pace after that. I’m not sure quite what happened, but he will be all right, I’m sure of that.”
Harkess warned that winning away from home this season is going to be a lot more difficult than in previous seasons, but is confident Monarchs can still reach the play-offs once again.
“We will get stronger at home and anything we can pick up on our travels will be a bonus to us.”