KYLE HOWARTH lost a stone-and-a-half in weight over the winter but the slimline racer is now piling on the points for his new speedway club Workington Comets and could prove a big thorn in Edinburgh Monarchs’ flesh in tonight’s eagerly anticipated League Cup encounter at Armadale.
The Comets are runaway leaders of the Northern qualifying section, seven points clear of second-placed Scunthorpe Scorpions, and their dominance is due in no small part to Howarth, who is scoring double- figure returns for fun from reserve and so far has amassed 56 points in just five matches.
Howarth knows the Lothian Arena well having ridden for Monarchs last season and is aware that some of his old team-mates are riding for their team places in the wake of their collapse against Redcar Bears seven days ago – a result which effectively killed off Monarchs’ semi-final aspirations. But the young Englishman insisted the Comets squad have their feet firmly on the ground and are refusing to get carried away with the whirlwind start they have made to 2012.
“We just treat every match as the same and tonight’s clash against Edinburgh is no different. I think it will be a tough meeting because Edinburgh are usually very good at home,” said Howarth.
“Our whole side is going well and we are all having a great time, we all get along and are having a blast, but, more importantly, we are enjoying our speedway and that explains our success so far.”
Howarth went on: “I know some people consider us favourites to win the championship this season, but we don’t think about stuff like that. If it happens, it happens, it’s still very early days yet.”
Howarth’s trip to Australia in December has transformed him into a far more rounded performer and he acknowledges just how constructive he found the experience.
He said: “I rode quite a lot in Australia and I learned so much, not just about my bikes, but about my style and a lot more. I also think the weight I lost helped me to get mentally fit as well.
“I didn’t put too much pressure on myself, I just had a good time, and now I’m riding with a smile on my face all the time. I’ve also got the right people around me like my dad and my brother.”
Yet the normally affable Howarth wasn’t quite so chirpy over the latter part of last season for Monarchs, feeling things went against him some of the time.
He revealed: “Last year was my first time proper in the Premier League and sometimes I struggled at some of the away tracks, but only because I had not been to them before.
“I only joined Monarchs halfway through the season and missed quite a few of their meetings. This year, I roughly know the bike set-up for all of the away tracks and this has helped me a lot.
“My gating is also pretty good, and that was something else I brushed up on in Australia, gating is one of the main things in speedway, if you don’t gate you don’t win races.”
Monarchs were disappointed when Howarth defected to Workington this season but the switch is paying off for him with interest and he said: “It’s a great track and the fans are fantastic. Workington are a great club and I can’t believe how well things are going.
“I’m not getting ahead of myself because I know how quickly fortunes can change, so I’ll just keep doing what I’ve been doing.”
Does he fear a Redcar backlash from Monarchs?
He answered: “I don’t think so, although I know the Edinburgh guys will be up for it after Redcar beat them and that could make it harder for us.”
Monarchs co-promoter John Campbell is urging his under-fire troops to give their best, saying: “All I can ask is that our team get back to the form they are capable of and combined with the way Theo [Pijper] is going just now, we should beat Workington, and I think we will.”