Edinburgh Monarchs are already out of the Championship Shield qualifying section but they could have a big say in who actually finishes top of the Borders Group.
Glasgow Tigers lead by two points but Workington Comets, who visit Armadale tonight, could overhaul them if they overturn a Monarchs team anchored at the bottom of the table. However, Edinburgh team manager Alex Harkess says Monarchs will not be doing Comets a favour. “We go into every match hoping to win. And as everyone knows Workington are a big-track team who struggle a little bit on the smaller circuits like ours.
“Some of Workington’s riders might find it difficult this evening, they might not. Workington will be coming to win but they are there to be beaten and that’s our plan.”
Monarchs might have been in a stronger qualifying position themselves but a protest they made over Workington’s use of a guest replacement for Australian Ty Proctor at Derwent Park is still waiting to be heard by the sport’s authorities nearly five weeks on.
Proctor was named in Workington’s 1-7 line-up before the start of the season despite having no paperwork or visa at the time to allow him to ride in the UK.
Harkess explained: “I’m not holding out much hope at all that a decision will go in our favour. Our protest seems to have got lost up a British Promoters Association cul-de-sac. The BSPA gave the go ahead for Workington to list Proctor, Workington should have admitted that the BSPA made a mistake.
“The matter has now gone forward to the Speedway Control Bureau and they are not going to change their minds and go against the BSPA.”
Monarchs lost the match 47-43.
One competition that Monarchs have made progress in is the KO Cup thanks to a stunning first-round second-leg victory against Glasgow at Ashfield a fortnight ago.
No-one gave the Capital side a ghost of a chance after they held just a two-point lead from the first leg at home. But they stunned the Tigers by triumphing 46-43 to earn a quarter-final home and away tie against Berwick Bandits later this month.
The result, says Harkess, could finally kick-start Monarchs’ 2018 campaign. “Yes it could, and it was so disappointing to have no home fixture last week, it was a lost chance to build on that result and get some momentum going.
“Our success at Glasgow certainly did us more good than harm. We are now through to face Berwick who I suspect will be quite pleased it’s us they now face.
“We are looking forward to it and we must make sure we ride well in our home leg.”
Harkess defected suggestions that it was an upset, saying: “To be fair to Glasgow it was an exceptionally hot afternoon and the track was very dusty. And when that happens it tends to affect the home riders rather than the visitors. It was the same when Glasgow won the first match of the season at Armadale.
“We had a new team who didn’t know anything about our track which was very heavy. But Glasgow adapted better to the conditions and got the win they wanted.”
Monarchs No.1 Ricky Wells was in imperious form at Ashfield and scored a paid 15-point maximum. Harkess added: “Ricky was superb at Glasgow, you had to gate on the day and Ricky did this with aplomb.
“Our captain Erik Riss also made a good contribution. In truth our victory should have been even more decisive but we gave away some silly points, Glasgow did not win them, we gifted the points to them.”
Meanwhile, Argentinian Coty Garcia, who replaced Matt Williamson at reserve, keeps his place in the Monarchs team. He has been signed on a short-term contract and if he does well against the Comets he may keep his place until the end of the season.
Monarchs, however, have other options open to them coming up to replace Williamson if they so choose.
But American Max Ruml, who suffered a nasty fall at Glasgow, continues to find points hard to come by and Harkess said: “Max is struggling but we all hope he will do better over the second half of the season. It’s tough for him, especially at the away tracks which he hasn’t seen before.”