Monarchs braced for Ipswich test

Edinburgh Monarchs will be looking to extend a 13-game winning run
Edinburgh Monarchs will be looking to extend a 13-game winning run
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Ipswich Witches may not be the finished article yet, but they are nipping at the heels of rampant Edinburgh Monarchs who are top of the speedway Premier League and unbeaten in all competitions.

Ipswich are just one point behind Monarchs and will leapfrog them if they win tonight’s top-of-the-table encounter at Foxhall Heath.

However, Monarchs co- promoter John Campbell doesn’t think his side’s 13-match winning run is about to end despite the slight resurgence in their hosts’ fortunes.

He said: “I think Ipswich have improved and some of their riders are better than they were two or three weeks ago, but we will be travelling there still thinking we have a great chance of winning.

“Our team have done exceptionally well in recent times and we have beaten some very good sides already. At some stage we will lose a match but I’m not absolutely certain it will be this week.”

Campbell added: “We are certainly good enough to carry on winning and it would be marvellous to go through the whole season winning every match, but it cannot possibly happen because bad luck will go against us at some stage and something will happen to beat us on the night.

“We are capable of running everybody close and tonight will be no different because we have a squad who are brimming with confidence –that is such an advantage to have.”

Monarchs are setting a searing pace in the championship race and have virtually sealed their spot in the play-offs already. The other big plus is the blossoming of Californian racer Aaron Fox, who made a jittery start to the campaign but is now revealing glimpses of his true self, as witnessed by the seven-point total he produced in Friday’s home win against Newcastle Diamonds despite riding with a badly-gashed thigh.

Campbell says: “Aaron put a lot of pressure on himself originally, believing he would step out of the small tracks back home with no dirt yet be able to ride some of the bigger circuits in the UK which boast different conditions that he had been accustomed to. But you can tell by speaking to him that he is now doing the job for us that we signed him for.

“He will find Ipswich a bit unusual as not everybody can come out of the second bend there correctly and still be in a points scoring position. I’m not expecting him to score double figures but he is now showing that he can score points – that’s the big difference.”

Monarchs are able to count on almost anyone to win races at the moment and this has alleviated the pressure on No.1 Craig Cook to bang in maximums all the time. However, Campbell points out: “While Craig realises that other members of the team are capable of grabbing high points, he is still out to win every race. We expect it and so does he – he is disappointed if he doesn’t manage it as there is the expectancy of him showing that he is the best rider in the Premier League.”

Cook rates the Ipswich trip as potentially tricky. “They have picked up a bit of form recently and are always pretty hard to beat round their own track,” he said. “Although we are on a great roll at the moment, this is not going to be an easy match for us.”

Ipswich moved into second place after picking up a point at Newcastle on Sunday. They led 43-41 with one race to go but lost a sucker 5-1 in heat 15 which allowed Newcastle to claim their first league success at Brough Park in 2014.

Ipswich boss Chris Louis accused his team of not being hungry enough, saying: “The bottom line is Newcastle wanted the win more than us. We should have won the match, and although we left with a point, it was disappointing that we didn’t get more.”