When the dust settled last season on Edinburgh Monarchs’ fourth Premier League title success, speculation was rife surrounding what changes might be made as the speedway club had to dismantle their triumphant septet for 2015.
One name stood out as a ‘no-brainer’ signing, however, and that man was experienced German racer Kevin Wolbert, whose low average after a poor year with arch-rivals Glasgow Tigers just could not be ignored.
And promoter John Campbell’s instincts in bringing back Wolbert, who was a former No.1 at Armadale, seem to be paying off with this year’s campaign just weeks old. Wolbert, who was a member of Monarchs’ title winning side of 2010, has amassed 30 points in his last three meetings providing him with a solid platform to build on as he seeks to rediscover his scoring prowess which failed to surface at Glasgow.
Wolbert, who hopes to tame the Tigers in tonight’s crunch League Cup tie at the Lothian Arena, joined Monarchs back in 2009 but after two seasons north of the border, he moved up into the Elite League, thendropped back to the second tier in 2014.
Wolbert’s marriage with the Tigers really should have been annulled. His body language just screamed out that he wasn’t happy and he came close to being axed at one point as his bosses started to lose patience.
But, following a winter of hard thinking, Wolbert almost bit Campbell’s hand off when he was invited to return to a club he “loves”. Wolbert told the Evening News: “It just feels so good to be back with Edinburgh again. I love Armadale and the track and have always enjoyed riding there because it’s so well prepared each week.”
Stories abound why Wolbert felt so dispirited in Tigers colours, but the 25-year-old instead prefers to focus on what he wants to do to help Monarchs retain at least one of the three major trophies they captured last season. “Let’s just say that last season was a very disappointing one for me for various reasons. I knew Edinburgh were interested in having me back at Armadale. A lot of things came together over the close season to make that happen and I’m delighted.”
Wolbert, it must be said, can look a world beater at times, and sometimes less so on occasions. It’s this sense of scatter-gun scoring that Wolbert is keen to arrest.
“I couldn’t wait for this season to start because I feel confident about this year and want to do my very best to help Edinburgh in everything they do. I was down on power in my first couple of meetings, but since I took delivery of my new engines, I’ve definitely got the speed now to attack and pass opponents, and I’ve been quite happy with how I have scored recently.
“However, I do need to be more consistent. There is no good scoring 14 points one week and half that the following week, so this is what I want to work hard on over the coming months. I would like to push my average up as well, and will be disappointed if that doesn’t happen.
“My aim is to return to the form I had when I was in the Elite League. I think I’m capable of getting back to that level again.”
Monarchs go into tonight’s derby with a match in hand over Glasgow who currently lead the qualifying group by three points. And it’s not inconceivable that both Scottish sides will progress to the semi-finals as group winners and best runners-up.
Glasgow’s skipper Aaron Summers was impressed with the manner of their 51-42 win over Monarchs at Ashfield on Sunday, and said: “I think we have got a chance tonight. We are a solid team all the way through which we proved last weekend. Even the boys below our top three were digging deep for points which was great.”
Monarchs travel to Workington Comets on Saturday. The Cumbrians have two home matches left in the section but look to be out of contention after dropping a point against Glasgow on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Monarchs captain Craig Cook has been chosen to partner Tai Woffinden in the Great Britain pairing for the final round of the Speedway Best Pairs in Denmark early next month.
Britain has never contested the event before, but were invited to take part following the withdrawal of the United States.