Max Fricke fired up for Newcastle showdown

Max Fricke hopes to help Monarchs stretch their unbeaten run to 13 matches
Max Fricke hopes to help Monarchs stretch their unbeaten run to 13 matches
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Max Fricke is determined to polish off Newcastle Diamonds at Armadale tonight after failing to take the chequered flag in any of his four races against Ipswich Witches last week.

The Edinburgh Monarchs teenager sets a high bar for himself and was stung that he found outright heat wins elusive against an Ipswich side who shocked Monarchs by taking a 5-1 in the very first race before eventually going down 56-36.

But Fricke was pragmatic about the situation, insisting individuality sometimes has to defer to overall team performances. “I did get a paid win with Derek (Sneddon) and while I would have liked a win of my own, it’s the team that counts, that’s the main thing,” he said.

Monarchs’ victory over Ipswich stretched their unbeaten run to 12 matches in all competitions this season, which is a record for the Premier League since its inception in 1997.

However, Fricke confessed that he thought Ipswich were going to take Monarchs to the wire after their opening salvo.

“After they got that 5-1, I think we all thought we were in for a tough night,” he said. “But we pulled away and won pretty convincingly in the end. Everybody did their job and we got the win that I think we deserved.”

To some observers Fricke lacked his usual fluidity, but he rejected suggestions that track conditions were to blame. He said: “The track was quite nice. We haven’t really had that many home meetings so far and the first few we did have took place in pretty rubbish weather.

“Last week was dry and sunny and the track surface was a bit different, but not to a degree that knocked me off my stride.

“I always try something different every week in an effort to improve myself. I did not start out as I would have liked, but not getting a heat win didn’t really matter as long as the rest of the team performed well, which, of course, they did.”

Determined to atone, Newcastle could face a backlash from the talented Aussie ace. “They might,” he said. “I’m determined to come back strongly. However, Newcastle are a good team who have made a couple of changes to their squad recently, so we won’t be taking their challenge lightly.”

Newcastle are a side who are, uncharacteristically, on the ropes right now and are anchored third from the bottom of the table with just three points to their credit – ten behind the all-conquering Monarchs.

They have been rattled twice at home already, with their recent loss to Workington Comets the first time they had been beaten in the league at Brough Park since 2011.

This prompted a wielding of the axe which saw the Diamonds dump Christian Henry and Swede Anton Rosen.

They swooped to sign Birmingham’s Elite League star Danny King as their new No.1.

Promoter Alan Hedlley said: “Danny was the easiest signing I’ve made as promoter, it took literally 60 seconds to do the deal. We wanted him here and he was desperate to come. We hope he will give us the firepower we have been lacking, especially in heats 13 and 15 when you look for your top riders’ to come good.”

Monarchs’ American star, Aaron Fox, who suffered a nasty leg wound against Ipswich is hoping to ride but final confirmation is awaited.

Monarchs have a busy weekend as they tackle Glasgow Tigers at Ashfield on Sunday afternoon seeking a third win at Saracen Park this year. Their last victory there was a 58-35 success in the League Cup last month.