Edinburgh Monarchs enhanced their play-off position with a convincing win over Lakeside Hammers in their Championship League speeedway clash at Armadale Stadium tonight.
It was another stroll in the park for Monarchs, as in recent weeks, although they lost Swedish racer Joel Andersson with a foot injury in the second heat. However they still racked up a 57-33 victory.
The result moves Monarchs up to second place in the table with 35 points.
However, the make up of the final top four places, which guarantees qualification, looks like going down to the wire, with Monarchs’ away trip to fellow contenders Glasgow Tigers at Ashfield on Tuesday a most crucial encounter in the scheme of things.
The Hammers are considered genuine title contenders but in the opening heat Monarchs duo Victor Palovaara and Ricky Wells blew away Richard Lawson and Ben Morley and romped to an easy 5-1. It was just the kind of start Monarchs wanted.
In the second race Monarchs reserve Andersson came down and hurt his right ankle and was withdrawn from the meeting; it was a big blow given the way the Swede has been scoring from reserve. He said: “I can’t stand too well at the moment, my foot is a bit sore but hopefully if I rest it I will be able to ride at Glasgow next week.”
In the rerun, however, team-mate William Lawson salvaged a 3-3 for Monarchs defeating Alfie Bowtell and Zach Wajtknecht.
And in the next race Richie Worrall and Josh Pickering, who barged past Hammers star Nick Morris on the fourth bend in great style, clinched Monarchs’ second 5-1 of the meeting to lead 13-5.
Lawson earned his second win of the night in the fourth heat, and with skipper Erik Riss following him over the line, this third 5-1 gave Monarchs a commanding 18-6 advantage.
The Hammers certainly were not riding like potential champions and discovered, like previous opposition before them, that Monarchs are now a real force round Armadale again.
Worrall and Pickering added another 5-1 in the fifth lead to stretch the lead to 23-7 and Pickering said: “The track was great and any visiting teams are going to struggle against us. If we get to the play-offs we are going to turn a few heads.”
Wells and Palovaara got another maximum advantage in heat six, Monarchs’ fifth of the match, and they now wear ahead by 20 points, 28-8.
Riss triumphed in heat seven and with Lawson claiming third spot this 4-2 pushed Monarchs further in front 32-10. Hammers simply could not find anything by way of a response.
Monarchs other Swede Palovaara then took a tumble on the first bend in heat eight and injured his hand. He was checked over by the medical staff and was excluded from the restart, and the Hammers extracted their first heat victory of the match, a 5-1 from Adam Ellis and Wajtknecht, Lawson unable to catch them, but Monarchs were still comfortably in front 33-15.
Worrall and Pickering replied with another 5-1 of their own in the ninth race, extending Monarchs’ lead to 38-16. Morris won heat ten for the Hammers but Wells and Lawson kept Morley at the back for a 3-3 share of the spoils.
The next three races were also shared and Monarchs still led convincingly 50-28. A 5-1 from Worrall and Lawson in heat 14 put Monarchs on easy street in the penultimate heat, they led 55-29, and the Hammers had proved a major disappointment in terms of their ambition.
The Hammers grabbed a 4-2 in the last race but it was too little too late but Lawson defeated Worrall, the first time the Monarchs ace had been beaten by an opponent since signing for the club.
Monarchs: Pickering 12, Worrall 11, Lawson 11, Riss 10, Wells 8, Palovaara 5, Andersson 0.
Lakeside: Lawson 10, Morris 7, Wajtknecht 7, Ellis 6, Bowtell 3, Morley 0.