Teenage kicks as Fricke hits Devils back

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Teenager Max Fricke was none too happy with the single point he scored against Plymouth Devils at Armadale on Friday, but he provided his own antidote by winning his first race for Edinburgh Monarchs in the return Premier League speedway fixture at the St Boniface Arena just 24 hours later.

The young Australian’s victory over fellow countryman Todd Kurtz in heat 14 clinched a tremendous 51-42 away triumph for Monarchs with a race to spare. They also bagged all four match points which were at stake at a venue they had previously never won at before.

Fricke wore a smile to match the warm evening sunshine and said afterwards: “It was great to get my first race win since joining Edinburgh, I have been patient about it because I knew it would come eventually.

“This has done my confidence a great deal of good and I know I can now push forward with more points to come. I was disappointed with my performance on Friday, I couldn’t get off the starts but tried a few different things with my bike after the meeting finished.”

Fricke scored six points in total on what was his first visit to Plymouth and added: “It is a very compact track but I didn’t mind that, I was just glad that I helped contribute to the team winning the match.”

Monarchs team manager John Campbell, who shrugged off what is the longest road trip in the league, was fulsome in hailing his side for the manner in which they applied themselves against a Plymouth outfit who had been fully expected to reverse their 56-36 loss at the Lothian Arena. He said: “It was a fantastic feeling and all the team have bonded together now and want to win everywhere they go. The Plymouth programme said we were the “underdogs” in our division, but I don’t think they have been watching us too closely! I thought we had a good chance of winning and things went well for us.”

Monarchs streaked into a ten point advantage after eight races which was then dramatically cut in half in the next heat when Devils’ experienced ace Mark Lemon won a tactical ride outing which produced a big 7-2 advantage for the host outfit. It was their last throw of the dice.

“We had been going so well it would have been a shame to throw it away,” said Campbell, “but we were so dominant really, we didn’t panic.”

The Monarchs chief was especially pleased for Fricke, adding: “It was great to see Max smiling because he hasn’t been doing much of that recently. He has been placing loads of pressure on himself, but he was brilliant.”

Monarchs’ new signing Mitchell Davey, after impressing with a splendid debut race success on Friday, caught the eye again with a very handy three-point total and was unlucky not to win his second ride in heat six when he got into a bit of a fankle which allowed Devils skipper Ty Proctor to pass him.

Monarchs’ victory lay in the foundations supplied by their top end men. Craig Cook, after a third place in his opening ride, was untouchable after that and reeled off four wins on the bounce for a 13 point haul.

And Dutch master Theo Pijper wasn’t far behind with ten, which included a brace of race victories. He said: “I was very pleased with my score, unfortunately I slid off in my last ride in heat 15 when I got pushed wide but Craig won the race anyway and that was all we required to get all four match points.

Teammate Claus Vissing pitched in with nine points, the Dane defeating Kurtz and Proctor respectively in winning his first two outings.

Monarchs’ only concern surrounded Jozsef Tabaka who pitched into the safety fence in heat 12, however the Hungarian is fully expected to ride against Scunthorpe Scorpions at Armadale on Friday.

Lemon was the Devils’ top scorer on 12 points, and Kurtz, who headed their scorechart in the first match, again shone from reserve with 11 points.

Plymouth: Lemon 12, Kurtz 11, Gathercole 9, Proctor 8, Kling 2, Anderson 0, Schramm 0.

Monarchs: Cook 13, Pijper 10, Vissing 9, Fricke 6, Tabaka 6, Sneddon 4, Davey 3.