Fricke takes it to the Max for Monarchs

Max Fricke celebrates his maximum haul. Pic: RON MacNEILL
Max Fricke celebrates his maximum haul. Pic: RON MacNEILL
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Aussie whizz-kid Max Fricke stormed to the first maximum of his speedway career at Armadale last night-and revealed he achieved his five-ride unbeaten score on a spare bike!

Fricke’s 15-point haul helped Edinburgh Monarchs to another highly-impressive Premier League victory as they crushed Plymouth Devils 61-31 to extend their unbeaten run to an incredible 18 matches.

Fricke was in imperious form and not even Plymouth’s fiery No.1 Ben Barker looked likely to stop the 17-year-old reaching his personal milestone.

Fricke, who received the traditional ‘bumps’ from his team-mates when he flashed over the line after winning the heat-15 top scorers race, said: “It feels nice, but my first maximum has been a long time coming.

“The bike I was going to ride for the match, I discovered it had a broken frame, so I ended up using my spare bike instead and it worked beautifully for me. I don’t purposely go out looking for maximums but, when you go out you want to win every race, so when a maximum comes along it’s very nice.”

Fricke added that he never really came under any pressure from his Plymouth rivals, saying: “I felt untroubled throughout the whole meeting. I made some decent starts and that was the key, but the whole team rode well once again with good scores right across the board.”

Monarchs’ American star Aaron Fox made his return from injury and bagged seven points which equalled his previous best score for the Capital outfit. Fox picked up a brace of second places before winning his fourth outing in heat 14 when he headed home Sam Simota and Kyle Newman.

The Californian said: “My comeback went pretty well and I was happy with how I rode. I was out of action for two weeks but I still felt strong on the bike and I also had some pace as well. The track was good, it was a bit slicker than usual, but that’s how I like it. Happy days.”

Plymouth, like Glasgow and Sheffield before them, lacked strength in depth and it was pretty much left to Barker to fend off a complete whitewash.

The Cornishman began well by relegating Craig Cook to third place in the opening heat and, although he picked up four points for a tactical outing in heat 11, he tailed off after that, and slid off in his final ride which earned him little sympathy from the home supporters, who liken the rider to Marmite – you either love him, or hate him.

Barker’s ten-point tally was never going to be good enough to even create a ripple as the Monarchs’ points tide flowed unabated.

Yet, despite the chasm in class between the sides, the racing wasn’t entirely processional. And the race of the night was Barker’s tactical joust with Sam Masters in that 11th race. Masters rode a fantastic four laps and could virtually feel Barker breathing down his neck. But the Monarchs’ ever-smiling Aussie held on despite a last-bend surge from his rival.

Masters collected eight points from his final three outings making amends for his first ride when he spun round on the first corner after getting caught in traffic. “I just want to forget about that”, he said. “It was a bit of a disaster, but I was happy with my scores after that and beating Ben is always good because he never makes it easy for anybody.”

After his uncharacteristic single point in the first race, Cook piled up ten points from his remaining rides despite looking sluggish from the gate on occasions. But the Monarchs ace did exact revenge on Barker for that heat one shock by beating him in heat 13 when he combined with Masters for a 5-1, one of seven maximum heat advantages Monarchs claimed in the match.

The other Monarchs rider to post double figures was Justin Sedgmen, who was so impressive against Sheffield last week. Sedgmen pulled together a couple of race victories but acknowledged the all-round scoring capacity of the whole Monarchs side, who do not look as if they are going to lose at home this season.

“I thought Plymouth might have pushed us a bit harder, but we just got on and did our job and we just keep rolling along”, said Sedgmen. The one low point was the abysmal display of skipper Derek Sneddon, whose one-point total was nothing short of unacceptable, and the Falkirk ace really deserved to be replaced in his fourth ride, and might have been, had the scores been tight.

Sneddon drops down to reserve in July and one can only hope he can fashion a turnaround in his form. Right now he gets passed too cheaply and too often.

Monarchs travel to Workington Comets tonight on league business and this could prove a true test for them despite having won at Derwent Park in the League Cup. Fricke said: “It will be a hard meeting for us, but we are ready for it, and hopefully we can come away with another win again.”

Monarchs: Fricke 15, Cook 11, Sedgmen 10, Worrall 9, Masters 8, Fox 7, Sneddon 1.

Plymouth: Barker 10, Jensen 6, Campton 6, Simota 5, Newman 3, Hopwood 1.