SAM MASTERS and new partner Kevin Wolbert defend Edinburgh Monarchs’ Premier League speedway Pairs crown at Somerset’s Oak Tree Arena tonight, hoping to avoid a repeat of the controversy which removed some of the shine from last season’s triumph.
Masters and then team-mate Max Fricke defeated the host club in the Grand Final after Somerset’s Nick Morris fell trying to round Fricke on the outside of the first turn. With a large Sky television audience watching, Morris was excluded from the rerun by meeting referee Jim McGregor, leaving the Capital men to coast home behind Rebels No.1 Olly Allen to gain the combined points required to lift the title. Many pundits felt a three-man showdown to decide the silverware robbed spectators and viewers of the climax they deserved.
However, McGregor insisted he made the right call on Morris having watched a video replay of the incident several times.
Masters, who was unaware of the drama which unfolded behind him at the first time of asking, today recalled: “I believe it was a 50/50 decision after I saw the video a few times later on. It was a hard call to make because everybody wanted to see four riders in the race.
“Our plan before the race was I would hug the inside line and Max would go round the outside. Max knew I was on the inside but both he and Morris went for the same piece of track. It wasn’t dirty riding, it was just very tight. That’s the way it goes sometimes. Morris had the guts to try and make the overtake on Max. Both are young kids and it was good to watch.”
Edinburgh are bidding to become the first club since Glasgow Tigers in 2005-06 to win back-to-back Pairs’ titles in the Premier League era.
Wolbert is delighted at being given the chance to seize a Pairs medal.
“I’m looking forward to it very much and have a lot to live up to after last year. But Sam and me will both do our best to win it again and we are both riding well for Edinburgh right now.”
Edinburgh without doubt have been given a stern draw.
“It’s a tough-looking group we are in with Peterborough and Ipswich two strong sides,” added Masters.
Group A: Edinburgh, Ipswich Witches, Peterborough Panthers, Rye House Rockets, Newcastle Diamonds.
Group B: Glasgow Tigers, Redcar Bears, Somerset Rebels, Workington Comets, Berwick Bandits.