Speedway: Monarchs hit top spot

Monarchs rider Claus Vissing, left, edges out Redcar's Ulrich Ostergaard in heat 13. Picture: Ron MacNeill
Monarchs rider Claus Vissing, left, edges out Redcar's Ulrich Ostergaard in heat 13. Picture: Ron MacNeill
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EDINBURGH MONARCHS today sit proudly at the top of speedway’s Premier League after another late, late show to grab a fighting 45-45 draw at Redcar Bears last night, their second such result in five days.

Monarchs have displaced Workington Comets at the summit of the division and the grim determination they displayed in clawing back eight points over the last three races leaves nobody in any doubt that this current squad are wearing the look of potential champions.

Co-boss John Campbell said: “We are building momentum now and nobody in the team wants to let each other down. I’m very pleased and it’s great to be top of the league, but such is our mentality that it doesn’t matter what position we occupy. We go out to win every match and this is not going to change.”

With searing temperatures on Teesside, the track was slicker than a patter merchant and there was enough dust to have satisfied Lawrence of Arabia, but Campbell admitted the conditions, in which gating was at a premium, definitely affected Max Fricke and Jozsef Tabaka, who toiled under the sun to get out of the gate quickly enough.

Said Campbell: “Basically, we had two woeful starts in Jozsef and Max and that made things more difficult for us than we might have expected. I would have thought one of them would have done something, but they could not come out of the gate at any time.”

With Tabaka having dropped back down to reserve, he was perceived as a possible trump card for Monarchs. “I thought that, had Jozsef taken seven rides, he would have scored double figures, but he was certainly not in that kind of form on this occasion,” added Campbell.

After opening up with a super 5-1 by Craig Cook and Derek Sneddon in heat one, Monarchs trailed 44-40 with just one race left and the prayer mats came out again, with many hoping Cook, who won heat 11 in the fastest time of the season, could bring about yet another last-heat miracle to seal the draw.

Paired with Claus Vissing, who also had a superb meeting, they faced Bears’ potent reserve scorer Carl Wilkinson and his team-mate Hugh Skidmore. Vissing, who had been pretty sharp all evening, flew from the tapes and never let the chequered flag out of his sight.

But with Wilkinson standing firm in second place, Cook was forced to hunt his rival down before passing him on the third lap for the 5-1 advantage Monarchs required to knock the Comets off the top spot.

Cook certainly showed no reaction following his World Team Cup axe on Monday and stormed to an almost defiant 14-point paid maximum, just to remind Team GB boss Neil Middleditch that he might just have made a big mistake.

“I never thought Craig would do anything other than what he did,” said Campbell, “He was brilliant as usual and is in super form at the moment, as we all know.”

Vissing picked up 12 points winning his second ride in addition to his last. The Dane revealed just how confident he and Cook were just minutes before the last heat showdown, explaining: “We talked about what we were going to do and it was decided Craig would go off the harder gate one position and I would take gate three. We said that should allow us to get a 5-1, and that’s what we did and that’s what happened!

“I was really happy with how I rode and if anybody had told me before the match that I would score 12 points and win the last race, I would have been very pleased to have taken that.”

Vissing’s return to form is down to his machinery and he admitted: “I’ve been fighting over what is the right engine for me and I’ve now found one that seems to be working for me and I’m confident with it. It sounds simple, but that’s how it is.

“This was a great result for us all, but we need to carry this form into tonight’s match against Newcastle at home, because it is going to be a hard meeting for the whole team.”

Campbell also knows as much, but said: “I went into the Redcar side of the pits after the match and shook hands with their team manager and told him it takes a good team to draw with us! But that’s the way it is. Newcastle will be tough, but we have seven riders who can all score points.”

Redcar, who used rider replacement for Matej Kus, were superbly served by Wilkinson, who top-scored with 13 from the tail-end.

Redcar: Wilkinson 13, Skidmore 10, Summers 9, Dyer 7, Ostergaard 3, Worrall 3.

Monarchs: Cook 14, Vissing 12, Tabaka 5, Pijper 5, Sneddon 4, Fricke 3, Davey 2.