Edinburgh Monarchs begin defence against title rivals Comets

Edinburgh Monarchs rider Max Clegg will race in all three divisions this coming season. Pic: Ron MacNeill
Edinburgh Monarchs rider Max Clegg will race in all three divisions this coming season. Pic: Ron MacNeill
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Edinburgh Monarchs will open the defence of their Premier League speedway championship crown on April 22 at home against Workington Comets.

The Cumbrian racers are already being talked up as possible title contenders despite falling apart last season after they were installed as favourites for the crown.

Monarchs’ senior reserve star Max Clegg today insisted he has no worries about facing the Comets, whose dreadful away form in 2015 cost them dearly.

Clegg said: “I think we are comfortable with the home advantage we have because it always gives us a chance of victory. And if we can start from where we left off last year, despite having new riders in the team, I think we can take care of Workington to get our league campaign off to a flying start.”

Monarchs travel to Derwent Park for the return clash 24 hours later and Clegg admitted: “I struggled there last season. I just didn’t get going so I’m hoping I can put on a better scoring performance this time around, but Workington are generally strong round their own track.”

Monarchs are bidding to win the Premier League for the third time in a row, but it could be a challenging campaign following Craig Cook and Justin Sedgmen’s move into the Elite League full time.

“Not to have Craig and Justin around is not ideal because they won so many races between them,” said Clegg. “But we have still got Sam (Masters) and it’s awesome that he is back. Sam has been riding in the Australian championship series and hasn’t been off a bike, so I think we will be all right.”

Asked if he considers it a big task to win the league again, Clegg replied: “It is, but it can be done. It was tough to defend it last season because we made hard work of it, but we got there in the end.

“That was because we worked as a team. I gained more confidence as the season wore on and felt a lot more comfortable on my bike. I had a really good final home match against Glasgow Tigers in the Play-Off Final and that felt good, now I’m hoping to kick on from that.”

Clegg will be riding at Elite, Premier, and National League levels this season but stressed the increased workload is not fazing him, stating it can only benefit his chosen career path.

He said: “I have just employed a full-time mechanic to help me out, although I will still be pretty busy. But it is going to be a new challenge for me.”

Clegg’s biggest winter decision was accepting one of the tail-end berths with top flight Wolverhampton Wolves. “I was buzzing when I got offered the opportunity,” said Clegg. ”I will be riding alongside some really useful guys, including Sam who is doubling-up with them, and that should be good. I can only gain in experience in the long run.

“It’s all about getting more track and bike time for myself. I’m happy to be riding in all three divisions but because Edinburgh gave me my big chance at senior level in 2015, I hope I can help them to make it three league titles in succession. It’s going to be a big year for me and I’m so looking forward to it.”

MONARCHS FIXTURES 2016

HOME

April 1: TBC

April 8: Berwick (LC)

April 15: Glasgow (LC)

April 22: Workington

April 29: Redcar Bears

May 6: TBC

May 13: Plymouth (KO)

May 20: TBC

May 27: Newcastle

June 3: TBC

June 10: Ipswich

June 17: Plymouth

June 24: Glasgow

July 1: Berwick

July 15: TBC

July 22: Scunthorpe

July 29: Sheffield

August 5: Rye House

August 12: Peterborough

August 19: Somerset

August 26: TBC

AWAY

April 3: Glasgow (LC)

April 16: Berwick (LC)

April 23: Workintgon

April 28: Redcar

May 14: Plymouth (KO)

May 22: Rye House

May 26: Ipswich

June 11: Berwick

June 12: Scunthorpe

June 18: Plymouth

June 26: Glasgow

August 7: Redcar

August 17: Somerset

August 18: Sheffield

August 28: Newcastle

All matches Premier League unless stated.

LC - League Cup

KO - Knockout Cup