Edinburgh Monarchs boss John Campbell today paid tribute to his “astounding” quartet of riders who defied all the odds to finish runners-up in the Championship Fours Final at Redcar.
Monarchs have won the trophy four times before, but Campbell said his squad – without their No.1 Ricky Wells who was racing in Poland – have never ridden better.
After seeing Peterborough Panthers edge out Monarchs to retain their crown, Campbell said: “It was absolutely astounding, really exceptional and I think everybody probably had an exceptional race on the day.
“Josh Pickering, as ever, was the most exciting rider on view and our skipper Erik Riss was simply magnificent.
“You can start to see some real potential in our riders now.”
Campbell admitted he was surprised by Monarchs’ performance and even parked his car outside the stadium in expectation of a quick getaway.
He added: “I was almost the last person left in the stadium after heat 22.”
Monarchs lifted eight points in their first three rides in the qualifying heats with Mark and Erik Riss both winning. Max Ruml grabbed a third place ahead of Jake Allen before Erik Riss triumphed again passing Rory Schlein on the last lap in heat 13.
Monarchs were well placed out in front and battling with defending champions Peterborough. Pickering took one last ride before the end of the semi-finals, sweeping from fourth to second round the boards.
So Monarchs finished just a point behind the Panthers at the conclusion of the semi-finals.
In the Grand Final, Monarchs faced off against Glasgow Tigers, Lakeside Hammers and the Panthers. Despite victories by Joel Andersson and Erik Riss respectively, Monarchs eventually just came up short in the final.
But Erik Riss said: “We did really well. We missed Ricky but everyone gave 100 per cent and still finished second. No one expected that.”
Wells sent a message from Poland which read: “Great result for the team. I hope the weekend’s results will transform our season.”