Monarchs must master new starting position

The starts are a key part of speedway racing. Picture: Ron MacNeil
The starts are a key part of speedway racing. Picture: Ron MacNeil
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When Edinburgh Monarchs moved their starting gate from one side of the track to the other this season it was done in the belief that it would foster a higher standard of racing.

But the switch has been dogged with problems, the main gripe being the outside gate four position which has become a graveyard for the home riders now that the run into the first bend is considerably shorter.

It has left Monarchs looking frail at the starts on occasions, which has led to a loss of some individual points, and now some fans are calling for a re-think.

But speaking ahead of tonight’s Premier League match against Sheffield Tigers, Monarchs team manager Alex Harkess said such an idea was a non-starter, explaining: “Moving the starting gate was not cheap nor was it a five-minute job. There was a lot of electrical work and other things involved, so we will not be moving it back.”

Harkess said the gate four outcry is something they are trying to find a solution to. “We are trying hard to see what can be done about this, but anybody who was at Berwick on Saturday would have seen the outside gate caused problems for the riders there as well.

“At Armadale you have simply got to make a super start off gate four to get in to the first bend in front, an average start is not good enough. People keep telling me it’s a shorter run in to the first turn now but I’m not sure how that affects anything to be honest.

“We have tried ripping up the area at the gate four position to try and give it more grip and are continuing to strive to make it better for our own riders.

“When the starting gate was in the old position certain riders used to specifically choose it towards the end of a meeting. Now you do your darnest to avoid getting it.

“It is difficult because you look to your top riders to win off gate four and when they are not doing that, it’s not happening and that’s disappointing. But Scunthorpe had a similar problem with their gate four start at the beginning of the season but they kept working on it and it’s fine now, and we will keep working on ours.”

Meanwhile, Harkess has given his backing, for now at least, to misfiring reserve star Mitchell Davey who cannot buy a race win at the moment. “Tonight he will have two weaker reserves against him,” said Harkess. “So hopefully he will be able to beat them which should be a good starting point for him. Trouble is, there are not ten other people in the queue waiting to replace him. Obviously if Mitchell keeps scoring zero we wouldn’t be losing anything by making a change.

“But we do need two scoring reserves, no doubt about it.”

Sheffield, who are sweating on the fitness of three of their squad who were injured during their thumping at Newcastle Diamonds last weekend, are second bottom of the table having hugely under-performed again this year.

Compounding their misery has been the loss of No. 1 Simon Stead who is out for the season with a broken leg. The Yorkshiremen are in a dogfight with Glasgow for the wooden spoon, and have drafted in Andrew Tully as a guest for Stead. The Tigers also welcomed back to their squad last week Andre Compton who first rode for them in 1999 in a effort to lift their standing in the league.

Compton, who took a two year break from the sport, said: “I’m working hard to get some better results over the next few weeks. The key is for me to get some good home scores, if I do that hopefully this will give my away form a bit of a boost.

“Taking a rest from speedway has done me the world of good, I feel enthusiastic again. I love Sheffield and everybody knows how much I love riding there.”

On paper at least this 
should be a straightforward victory for Monarchs. And with Jozsef Tabaka back to something like his best form at Berwick where he scored 11 points, the visiting Tigers should be tamed in style.

Monarchs are also on duty at Glasgow on Sunday in the re-arranged second leg of the Spring Trophy.