‘It was full throttle into the fence and I hope Claus and Robert are OK’

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Last night’s Premier League speedway clash between Edinburgh Monarchs and Sheffield Tigers at Armadale was dramatically abandoned after 12 races following a horrific crash involving Monarchs Danish ace Claus Vissing and Sheffield’s young reserve rider Robert Branford at the start of heat 13.

As the tapes flew up, Branford seemed unable to turn his bike and got locked together with Vissing and the pair smashed through the safety fence at high speed on the first turn and flew into the pits parking area.

The medical team were quickly on the scene and Vissing and Branford were both taken to hospital in separate ambulances. It seems Vissing escaped with just minor bruising, but Branford has a suspected broken arm.

Skipper Sneddon scored six points but was more concerned about the fate of his teammate Vissing. “It looked such a bad crash,” he said,”And simply underlined how dangerous a sport this is. It was a full throttle job into the fence and I just hope Claus and Robert are okay.”

Referee Darren Hartley had no choice but to call a halt to proceedings due to the time curfew at Armadale. He said: “The safety of both riders is absolutely paramount and by the time both ambulances had returned to the stadium it would not have been possible to complete the other three scheduled races. I’m sure everybody can understand why I had no alternative but to abandon the match.

“It was a very scary, high-impact crash and hopefully both men are not too seriously hurt.”

One paramedic who attended to Vissing told the Evening News: “He seemed fine, he was fully conscious and was able to talk and was sent to hospital purely as a precaution.

“Neither Claus nor Robert had any damage to their racing helmets which is always one of the first things we look for, and that is encouraging.”

Monarchs led 45-32 at the time and the result does stand. it means Monarchs collect all three match points and continue their passage towards the end of season championship play-offs.

They are now in joint second place behind leaders Redcar Bears but with meetings in hand. And if Monarchs can finish either second or first by the time the league programme is completed they will be allowed to choose their opponents when the top six splits into two groups of three for the play-off campaign which begins next month.

Even although Sheffield are second bottom of the table they did not roll over meekly, and while Monarchs always seemed to have a handle on proceedings, they still made pretty heavy weather of overcoming their Yorkshire visitors.

The Tigers put up some decent resistance notably from Ricky Wells and their Argentinian tail-ender Facundo Albin. Wells scored 14 points from his five completed rides which included a six-point tactical win in heat seven.

This race proved a disaster for Monarchs when Vissing locked up on the fourth bend and his teammate Derek Sneddon couldn’t avoid running into the back of him.

This gifted the race to some degree to Wells and with partner Andre Compton picking up a point for coming in third, the Tigers earned themselves a handy 7-2 advantage which saw them trail Monarchs by just five points at that stage.

However Monarchs got a grip of themselves and with a brace of 5-1s at the start of the second half they were well on the way to winning by a comfortable margin before the premature halt was called to proceedings.

No.1 rider Craig Cook was unbeaten in his first three rides, and young Max Fricke was also very impressive.

The Aussie won his second outing then pulled off a sizzling pass to overtake Wells in heat ten to follow Cook home for maximum points.

Theo Pijper was also back in winning mode with two victories to his credit, but Mitchell Davey’s malaise continues. He only scored a single point and that was a gifted one in the second race when Branford tumbled off yards from the finishing line.

It seems inconceivable that Monarchs won’t bring about a change at reserve, they need to if they are to have any chance of success when the play-offs come around.

Vissing was due to ride against Glasgow in the second leg of the Spring Trophy at Ashfield tomorrow afternoon, but must now be considered a doubt.