There was a feeling in some quarters that Redcar Bears could be the team to finally trip Edinburgh Monarchs up on Teeside last night.
But the Capital speedway outfit put the squeeze on their hosts to carve out a comfortable 51-41 Premier League victory which extends their remarkable unbeaten run to 22 meetings and keeps them flying high at the top of the table.
Monarchs co-boss John Campbell today scoffed at the notion his side would come unstuck and said: “ I think the people who said they did not think we were good enough to win at Redcar are people who don’t see us often enough to know better.
“I was always confident we would win. So many of our riders are going well right now that it’s hard for an average team to hang on to us.”
Despite losing a 4-2 in the opening heat, Monarchs quickly assumed control of proceedings and a 5-1 from Craig Cook and Justin Sedgmen over new signing Mark Lemon and Carl Wilkinson in the fifth race nudged them in front 17-13, a lead that was extended to ten points when the same pairing extracted maximum points again, this time against Bears skipper Aaron Summers and Jan Graversen in heat 11.
This prompted Redcar to bring out Lemon for a tactical outing in the next race, but the experienced Aussie was undone by Monarchs’ fellow countryman Max Fricke who won the ‘master and pupil’ duel to keep the Bears very much on the back foot.
This was really a forlorn last throw of the dice for the home side who surrendered any hope of victory when Stevie Worrall took the chequered flag in the penultimate heat. And Monarchs simply added icing to the cake when Fricke and Cook conjured up a 4-2 advantage in the heat 15 top scorers’ race to secure all four points up for grabs.
This was Worrall’s first meeting since moving in to the main body of the team from the reserve berth and Campbell was unstinting in his praise for the St Helen’s born rider who won three races and finished with a splendid ten-point haul suggesting that his promotion from the tail-end is not going to blunt his incredible scoring touch. Campbell said: “It was a great performance from Steve who remains unfazed about anything. To think he was dumped by Redcar last season for being no good! But to be fair he is a changed man now.”
Cook and Fricke were joint top scorers with 11 points each and the latter is currently in the middle of a purple patch at the moment, and not just for Monarchs.
“Max just gets better and better,” said Campbell. “He had three excellent races and even Mark Lemon congratulated him after he beat him when he was on that tactical ride.”
Fricke as ever was keen to focus on Monarchs’ overall display and said: “Everybody played their part and it was a solid performance from us all. It was great to come away with the win because Redcar had a good result at home to Peterborough last week.
“It was tight early on but we managed to pull away over the second half. I had a good meeting and I was pleased to win the final heat; I can’t really complain about how I rode.”
And even although team-mate Aaron Fox failed to score on a track he had not seen before, Campbell said: “Aaron was very competitive but it was a bit of a gater’s paradise.”
Redcar themselves are vying for a end of season play-off spot and can take some solace from the fact that they are just the latest side in the country who have failed to put the skids under Monarchs who host the Bears in the return fixture at Armadale tonight.
Redcar: Summers 8, Skidmore 8, Lawson 8, Lemon 7, Wilkinson 5, Graversen 3, Konopka 2.
Monarchs: Fricke 11, Cook 11, Worrall 10, Masters 7, Sedgmen 6, Sneddon 6, Fox 0.