Erik Riss wrote his own speedway report card this season and stated he ‘must do better’.
Having agreed a new contract for a third season with Edinburgh Monarchs in 2017, the 21-year-old German is determined to make a bigger impression in the rebranded Championship division feeling he wasn’t such a commanding figure on track this year to the one who wowed home supporters in his debut campaign in 2015.
Riss increased his average to just below the seven-point mark but a heavy schedule of overseas commitments which included the World Under-21 Championship and the World Longtrack competition, which he captured for a second time, undoubtedly had a bearing on his domestic duties for Monarchs.
Riss said: “Obviously I’m very happy to be back with Edinburgh but I realise that I need to do better next season and I will be working very hard to achieve that aim.
“I did take on a lot of other commitments this year and perhaps I took on too many and will now be looking to scale back some of my other engagements because my priority is to do the best I can for Edinburgh.
“It wasn’t good that we lost our league title and the season was quite difficult at times. But it’s important we now focus on trying to make a strong fight for the championship crown once again and our fans will be looking to us to do that.”
Riss intends to challenge his energies on these shores but that could well depend on how successful he is in finding a Premiership club to double-up with. It could prove difficult with the recent reduction in the team-building points limit consigning some quality riders to a possible spectator role because certain clubs simply cannot fit them in.
Riss is philosophical, saying: “I would like to try and double-up but if this doesn’t prove possible then I may decide to race in Denmark again. But I have always wanted to try my luck in the Premiership. I’ll just have to wait and see what develops.”
Riss was always going to be an important piece of Monarchs team jigsaw and, having bumped his average up once, he feels it’s not unreasonable for him to do it for a second time.
“It was nice to see my average rise in only my second season with Edinburgh,” he said. “And it is important for me and the whole team that I can keep on improving, especially at home where winning and not dropping points is so vital. Nobody likes losing. If you lose at home it can make it hard to reach the play-offs.”
Monarchs team manager Alex Harkess expressed his delight that Riss will be back in harness at Armadale again, saying: “Erik was disappointed at what he achieved with us this season and that was down to the fact that he simply took too much on. The World Under-21 and Longtrack Championships are okay for a week or so but, spread over the course of a whole season, they became very tiring for him.
“He is not going to do so much and told me his main aim is to get better and we all think he can.”
However, Harkess was candid in stating that the doubling-up dream Riss harbours is unlikely to be realised by the 21-year-old. “I think it will be very difficult for him to find a spot, he might land a place if somebody was to get injured. But if Erik is looking for a berth for the start of the season, I don’t think he has any chance of finding somewhere.”
With Riss an Edinburgh asset, Harkess conceded that not utilising his talents would have been crazy.
“Having a rider who has the ability to add to his average, and that’s the key thing for us, meant Erik was one of the first riders we wanted to return. If you have a team who all have the potential to increase their averages, that’s generally the recipe for success in winning the league championship.”
Asked about the prospect of linking up again with older brother Mark, Erik replied: “That would be good. I enjoyed having him around this year and we gave each other bits of advice all the time and I hope he will be back with me.”
Harkess would only say: “We’re still interested in Mark and he is of course our asset as well.”
Meanwhile, Max Clegg, who could yet fill Monarchs’ senior reserve slot if Dan Bewley is unavailable, and this now looks increasingly likely, has rejoined Wolverhampton Wolves in the Premiership.
Clegg, who is keen to pull on the Monarchs colours again, said: “I haven’t heard from Monarchs yet but I’m keen to go back. I made good progress over the second half of the season and think I can pick up where I left off if Edinburgh give me the chance.”