Monarchs throw it away as Redcar Bear down on them

Max Fricke, left, who amassed 12 points for the Monarchs, won three races with some stylish riding. Picture: Ron MacNeill
Max Fricke, left, who amassed 12 points for the Monarchs, won three races with some stylish riding. Picture: Ron MacNeill
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Redcar Bears put the squeeze on Edinburgh Monarchs to pull off a shock 47-46 Premier League speedway victory at Armadale Stadium last night.

Monarchs were handicapped by the absence of Dutch star Theo Pijper and used rider replacement as cover-but they only gained a miserly seven points from the facility, probably half of what Pijper has been scoring at home recently, and this was one of the reasons for a loss that few would have predicted.

The other big factor was the rank performance of Dane Claus Vissing who only scored a single point from his five outings which is simply not acceptable from a rider of his supposed stature.

Redcar must have thought Christmas had arrived a few months early and couldn’t believe how lucky they were to see Vissing in such ineffective form. The Dane never looked remotely likely to win a race and his malaise, which everybody hopes is very short lived, pulled Monarchs down.

Vissing rushed away at the end of the meeting offering no reasons for his shortcomings, except to say: “If I knew what was wrong, it wouldn’t have been wrong.”

Ironically having feared they were vulnerable at reserve, Monarchs ace Max Fricke, who dropped down to the tail-end berth this week, won his first three races in blistering style and ended up with a fantastic 12-point haul from his six rides. But all his hard work and endeavour went pretty much out of the window as his score was negated by Vissing’s paltry total. Incredibly Redcar were 12 points in arrears after ten heats, but a tactical win by their No.1 Ulrich Ostergaard in the next race, with partner Carl Wilkinson who finished second, handed the Bears a massive 8-1 advantage which put them within breathing distance of a Monarchs squad who found the slick track conditions in the second half something of a problem as most of the races were being decided from the gate. And Redcar were miles better in this department.

With one heat left, Redcar led 43-44 and only needed to share the final race to secure their outstanding win, and this they achieved when Ostergaard and Aaron Summers kept Vissing at the back and were quite happy to let Monarchs star Craig Cook fly away to take the chequered flag.

Former Monarch Summers said Redcar’s win simply underlined how well the Teesiders are going at the moment. 
“Edinburgh is always a tough place to come to, but the fact the track turned slick late on played in to our hands a bit,” he said. “The 8-1 tactical advantage we secured seemed to spur us all on and we had a few good races towards the end of the match.

“Ulrich and myself knew exactly what we need to do in the final race and that was to keep Vissing at the back as we had done in heat 13. We knew Cook would win the race but as long as we picked up three points we were home and hosed.” Monarchs team manager Alex Harkess had warned earlier in the week that this fixture was a potentially “very difficult” one for his team, but said he didn’t think Monarchs would throw it away in the manner they did.

“We couldn’t pass, it was down to who gated the fastest in the second half and it wasn’t us. Using rider replacement is never easy but when your second heat leader (Claus Vissing) only scores one point, it’s hard to come back from that,” he said. “The longer the match went on, other than Craig Cook who was superb as usual, we had nobody else who was among the points.”I was always nervous about the match but I didn’t imagne we would throw it away.” Jozsef Tabaka, who moved into the main body of the Monarchs team having swapped places with Fricke, looked pretty much ill at ease in his promoted berth and failed to win a race, something he had been doing consistently from the reserve position.

“I struggled,” said Tabaka. “The track became pretty slick and I just couldn’t find enough grip to pass people and win races, I’m a bit down, but I will bounce back.”

Monarchs need to regroup – and quickly – ahead of their televised match at Somerset Rebels on Tuesday.

Monarchs: Cook 16, Fricke 12, Sneddon 7, Tabaka 7, Sarjeant 3, Vissing 1.

Redcar: Ostergaard 14, Summers 9, Dyer 8, Wilkinson 7, Kus 6, Dilger 3, Skidmore 0.