Workington Comets fell to earth at Armadale last night as Edinburgh Monarchs recorded their first home win in three weeks.
Monarchs, who are still without two injured riders, crushed their Cumbrian visitors 61-34 to pick up all three Premier League points in a meeting which was far more one sided than anyone had predicted.
Monarchs, still on a high following their amazing Knockout Cup heroics at Newcastle last weekend, turned in a convincing all-round scoring performance which easily erased their setbacks at the West Lothian Arena over the past fortnight.
One of the chief reasons for Monarchs triumph was Claus Vissing. The Dane had been under the cosh recently for his derisory efforts at home, but he returned to the form he should be showing for a rider of his experience, picking up 12 points from his five outings, which included a hat-trick of race wins.
Vissing has been as upset as anybody with his failure to fully conquer Armadale, but was naturally more upbeat after this latest display which he hopes will assuage some of his critics.
He said: “I’m still the same rider I ever was, but I was on a new engine from Stan James and I felt a lot more comfortable. I still did not think I rode that well and I was not happy with some of the starts I made. I was lifting too much and that is something I need to get sorted out.
“But I have been saying to everybody over the last month that once I find the right bike set-up for Armadale, I will be fine. I feel we are getting closer now to finding that, also the track this week had more dirt down, which made passing more easy, but it was still pretty slick.”
Monarchs, who have only been coming to life in the second half of matches lately, this time were wide awake and alert over the first eight heats and led 32-21. This gave them the ideal platform to push on from that strong standpoint.
Workington, in truth, were extremely disappointing, given their current high league position. They were a virtual three-man team with only captain Richard Lawson, Rusty Harrison and reserve Ashley Morris offering any kind of resistance to their rampant hosts.
Workington’s only notable heat success was a tactical 8-1 advantage in the seventh race, when Harrison and Morris defeated Theo Pijper, who was disqualified after careering into the home straight, and Max Fricke, who pinched a third place point This was, however, Fricke’s only blemish on an otherwise excellent night again for the young Aussie, who garnered 14 points from his seven rides and was Monarchs joint top-scorer. Fricke is developing into a rider of some quality and he also has a racing brain and doesn’t opt to choose predictable racing lines, either at home or away.
He won his first and last rides and said: “It was another busy evening for me, but the more laps and track time I get the better. This was a really good team performance and I was just glad to have done my bit in helping us get the points. It was important we won this meeting after losing twice at home, everybody was happy with the result.
Monarchs No. 1 Craig Cook and skipper Derek Sneddon reached personal milestones, racking up 1000 and 2000 points respectively since joining the Capital outfit.
Sneddon followed up his strong showing at Newcastle with nine points and Cook was unbeaten by the opposition as he raced to a 14-point paid maximum.
“This was a big result for us,” said Cook.” We were under a bit pressure to get things back on track at home and we did it with quite a bit to spare at the end, which might have surprised some people.”
Pijperm who is still suffering from broken ribs, did well to pick up eight points, and stand-in reserve James Sarjeant was also among the points with an excellent four-point effort, which included heading off Morris for second place in the second race. That was no mean feat, because Morris was pretty lively and was also snapping at the heels of some of Monarchs more experienced riders’
Workington team manager Tony Jackson was visibly disappointed with his side’s display and hinted they must turn the tables in tonight’s return tie at Derwent Park.
Said Jackson: “Given our past performances at Armadale, I shouldn’t be that surprised over the result, but we should have put on a better show for all our fans who travelled up. We should have scored more than the thirty four points we managed.
“We did have a few mechanical problems in the team, but ultimately if you don’t win enough races then you won’t win matches. We must try and rebuild things for this evening’s meeting, but I must congratulate Edinburgh on their win – they fully deserved it.”
Jackson added: “I’m not even that confident about us beating Monarchs at our place because strange things can happen in speedway. I’m just disappointed because we are a better team than our score suggests.”
To underline Monarchs superiority, they grabbed seven 5-1 advantages over the course of the meeting and what a huge difference that can make when you are chasing a solid home victory.
Workington will also look back on former Monarch Kyle Howarth’s lowly two-point effort. The Englishman looked like he had never seen Armadale before and was well off the pace until he snatched a second place in his final ride.
Monarchs: Cook 14, Fricke 14, Vissing 12, Sneddon 9, Pijper 8, Sarjeant 4.
Workington: Harrison 12, Lawson 10, Morris 6, Bach 3, Howarth 2, Mills 1.