Edinburgh MONARCHS starlet Max Fricke has spoken of the high level of expectation placed on his slender shoulders following his stunning triumph in the Australian Under-21 championship two weeks ago.
The 16-year-old became the youngest champion since Leigh Adams won the first of his four crowns in 1988.
And while Monarchs have made it clear he is under no pressure to perform miracles when the new speedway season begins at Armadale next month, it hasn’t stopped some from thinking he will become an overnight sensation when he pulls on his Monarchs race bib for the first time against Berwick Bandits on March 29.
However Fricke, who will be 17 when he makes his Monarchs debut, has made it clear that he expects life in the British Premier League to be tough and is pleading for time to settle in.
“Over in the UK you look at everyone and they take time to get everything sorted out and I know it is going to take me time to learn all about the Premier League circuits. It will take me time to settle down and everybody must realise that. I cannot expect to go out in my first race and, all of a sudden, I’m on the pace with guys like Craig Cook. There are riders’ in the Monarchs team who are going to be quite a bit better than me.”
Fricke added: “Hopefully after each race I will be able to take a little bit of something away from the meeting and will get better and better as the season goes on.”
Despite spending time in the UK over the past couple of years, Fricke didn’t make his bow on a 500cc machine until last August when he scored seven points in the Matthew Wethers Testimonial meeting, and it was this performance which awakened Monarchs bosses to the teenager’s undoubted potential.
Surprisingly having put himself in the shop window, rival clubs did not beat a path to his door and Monarchs acquired his signature without undue fuss. Even Glasgow Tigers, who are under new ownership, could not match the offer Monarchs made and seemed unwilling to push the boat out to thwart the Capital club – something they may live to regret.
Fricke’s father Rodger, who will accompany his son over the first few weeks of the season, revealed: “Max stayed with Sean Courtney last year and Sean is now Glasgow’s new team manager.
“It was a difficult decision about deciding which club to join, but Max liked riding the track at Armadale. It’s a technical type of circuit and different to lots of others in the league.
“Initially we had looked to land a spot at somewhere like Leicester because we wanted to be based in the Midlands, but Max is delighted to have signed for Edinburgh.”
While Fricke continues to receive a great deal of praise for his Under-21 success, he remains distinctly level-headed and refuses to get carried away with his success.
He said: “It was unexpected and I never really thought I could win it. But you always go into any meeting hoping to do your best and try your hardest.
“With guys like Justin Sedgmen, Taylor Poole and Alex Davies riding against you, it was a hard meeting. They have all been riding in the UK for the last couple of years and I look up to them, and that made my win that little bit special.”
Monarchs supporters are among the most savvy in the country and will give Fricke the time and space to find his feet. In fact, this year’s Monarchs squad includes the last two Premier League Riders’ Champions, and now the new Australian champion. 2013 could well be a vintage campaign on the track and while injuries can play a decisive part in any side’s championship chase, Monarchs’ terracing faithful must be cooing at the prospect of a possible fourth league crown in just over a decade by the time October dawns.