When Mark Riss joined Edinburgh Monarchs last month to link up with younger brother Erik, it would have been easy to assume that a sibling rivalry might develop perhaps to the detriment of the squad.
However, according to Monarchs co-promoter John Campbell, the opposite has happened with the talented duo encouraging each other to do their best. This spirit of accord could pay dividends for the Capital speedway outfit in the race to make the Premier League play-offs.
Monarchs picked up a crucial away win at Redcar Bears last week when both brothers scored six points each. And they were influential in nailing the 48-45 triumph despite being ten points down after just six races.
And Erik was Monarchs’ top scorer and matchwinner with 12 points in their thrilling follow-up victory at Scunthorpe Scorpions last Sunday despite it being his first visit there. He is hoping for another double-figure haul in tonight’s return fixture against the Lincolnshire side at Armadale.
Campbell is impressed by the young Germans, who are shaping up to become the engine room of the squad. He said: “One Riss is as good as the other. It is difficult to split them. Both of them are also showing potential to pass riders as well. I’m very pleased by what Mark has done since we signed him.”
Some claim Erik has slipped under the radar in certain meetings this season. However, Campbell says it’s not down to any dip in form, insisting: “I don’t think so. There were many occasions last year – and Redcar was one of them – when Erik did absolutely nothing in the match then won heat 14. He did more than that last Thursday and was highly-competitive throughout. He may have been a bit jaded having just come from a grasstrack meeting in France the night before which did not finish until 1.30am!”
Despite Erik being the more experienced of the two since coming to the UK, Campbell stressed there is no evidence of them trying to put the other in the shade. Campbell revealed: “I think they are very close and they encourage each other to be the best and, if Erik can tell Mark something to outscore him in a match then so be it.
“When you see them chatting together it’s all about what they have to do in the next race to be better and, if at the end of the day, Mark ends up better than Erik that’s not a problem. Erik will always have his longtrack duties and be able to say ‘I’m better than you at that’ because Mark doesn’t bother with longtrack.”
Mark is now winning races for Monarchs since donning the blue and gold and his progress is very much on track. Said Campbell: “The difference between Erik’s introduction to the Premier League and Mark’s is that Erik has been there, done it, and got it wrong and corrected it. So he has been able to tell Mark to do this or that from day one and that is a huge advantage.”
Campbell went on: “Erik arrived at Armadale with some set ideas on how things should be done and it was difficult to get that out of his head. The difference now is that Erik knows what to do and is able to pass that knowledge on to Mark.”
Gating was something that Mark found difficult to start with but is now honing that sluggishness. “Mark could not get out of the starts in his first two or three meeting,” said Campbell. “He knew he was in danger of doing that because he perhaps set his sights too high. There is always a bit settling in to do when you ride in another country. Mark is used to riding super slick tracks in Germany with rock-hard starting gates. You don’t get that in Britain and he is now getting used to this and I’m delighted with the way he is coming on.”
Monarchs’ 45-44 triumph at Scunthorpe, who protested at the use of Mitchell Davey as a guest for Dan Bewley who was riding for Belle Vue Colts in the National League on the instructions of the British Speedway Promoters Association, saw them leap into sixth place in the table and Campbell reflected: “Had we staged all our league matches that have been rained off we’d be sitting very high in the league but we are still in a good position points wise.
“If we had raced four more matches and won them we would be near the top of the table and that is something our fans have become used to. We are sitting in a play-off position now and must push on and that means not losing at home.”
• Sam Masters, Ryan Fisher, Erik Riss and Kevin Wolbert defend Monarchs’ Premier League Fours crown at Peterborough this weekend and have been drawn in semi-final 3 alongside, Ipswich, Rye House and Berwick.