Edinburgh Monarchs have made their best ever start to a speedway campaign – and that is official.
Their 55-38 victory against Glasgow Tigers at Armadale last night made it seven wins in a row for, a club record, and it also sealed their place in the League Cup semi-finals by a considerable margin.
However the feeling that Monarchs would steamroller their Ashfield rivals into submission proved a little wide of the mark, especially during a sticky first half that saw some of the Tigers’ big guns fly from the gate leaving Monarchs, on occasions, to chase air.
The first big shock happened in the very first race when Kevin Wolbert showed Monarchs No.1 Craig Cook a clean pair of heels. Wolbert, a former Edinburgh star, also won his next two outings, before Cook gained revenge in a terrific duel in heat 13.
And Cook also featured in the best clash of the meeting in heat 15 against another former Monarch, Theo Pijper. He gated like a dream and Cook was momentarily in last place before he summoned up all his expertise of the Lothian Arena circuit to overhaul Pijper for a victory that quite simply did not seem on. Cook said: “Theo rode a great inside line and he probably thought the race was in the bag. But I just plugged away and managed to catch him in the end. It was a great race win for me.”
Cook dropped his only point to Wolbert in that opening skirmish, and he reflected: “Had that happened last season I would kicked things around the pits and I would have been fuming at myself. But I’m a lot calmer now, I put the race to the back of my mind and just moved on, and it’s important to do that instead of worrying about it.”
With Tigers without Kasper Lyke, their regular reserve, and Anders Thomsen, this presented Monarchs star Aaron Fox with a golden opportunity to prove himself. And the American responded by notching up five points from his four outings, including a second place behind partner Steve Worrall in the eighth race.
Fox said his confidence has been raised by this improved performance. “I have been trying everything to get things right with my bikes and took delivery of two new frames this week. It’s still very much a learning curve for me because I haven’t seen a lot of tracks in the Premier League yet.
“But I’m pleased to have put points on the board for the team, that is the most important thing.”
Monarchs will have gleaned quite a bit of satisfaction over the solidity of their scoring with everybody chipping in with something and it’s quite clear the whole team are pulling for each other and this has engendered a strong team spirit in the pits.
With Glasgow having to use two National League riders at reserve, it wasn’t surprising that Worral and his tail-end partner Justin Sedgemen mopped up in the basement battle.
Sedgemen scored nine points which included victory in his first ride, and Worrall, who rode for Swindon Robins earlier in the day at Poole Pirates, weighed in with six points.
Worrall was on the wrong end of a harsh exclusion in heat 12. Tigers ace Rusty Harrison appeared to run into the back of Worrall on the second turn, but referee Stuart Wilson deemed the Monarch was the cause of the incident and disqualified him.
“Apart from that I didn’t ride too badly,” said Worrall. “It was another strong team showing and to get through to the Cup semi-finals with a qualifying match to spare, shows just how well we are going right now.”
Tigers most robust scorer was Pijper who claimed 14 points from five starts. The Dutchman was given a tactical outing in heat nine which he duly won heading home Max Fricke and skiper Derek Sneddon.
But Piper’s six point double score, wasn’t enough to stop the Monarchs juggernaut which was on full power in the second half. Glasgow will be content that they made Monarchs fight reasonably hard for their milestone triumph and may well fancy their chances of ending Monarchs unbeaten run at Ashfield tomorrow afternoon.
Monarchs: Cook 14, Sedgemen 9, Fricke 7, Masters 7, Sneddon 7, Worral 6, Fox 5.
Glasgow: Pijper 14, Wolbert 11, Harrison 6, Lemon 4 Berge 1, Widman 1, McBain 1.