Speedway: Monarchs at Max strength after snatching Fricke from Tigers’ lair

Max Fricke's arrival at Edinburgh Monarchs represents a massive step up in class for the teenager
Max Fricke's arrival at Edinburgh Monarchs represents a massive step up in class for the teenager
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Edinburgh Monarchs have revealed how they won the race to sign Aussie teenager Max Fricke from under the noses of rivals Glasgow Tigers despite the fact that Fricke had been staying with new Tigers team manager Sean Courtney.

Sixteen-year-old Fricke, who made his first appearance on a 500cc bike during the Matthew Wethers Testimonial meeting at Armadale last August, became Monarchs’ sixth signing of 2013 a few days ago, and, while Glasgow insist they couldn’t match the offer Monarchs made to the youngster, they will be disappointed at having the rug pulled from ­under their feet.

Monarchs co-promoter John Campbell said: “When Max rode in Matthew’s event he showed sufficient potential to attract our attention and we have been very fortunate that two supporters also saw his potential and backed us substantially to sign him, and that’s what made the difference.

“It appeared that Glasgow held the advantage because Max had been staying with Sean. My contact with Max was restricted to two conversations I had with him in the bar at ­Armadale. However, having the guy in your house turned out not to be a critical advantage at the end of the day.”

Fricke has spent the past two summers in the UK, but teaming up with Monarchs for their Premier League title challenge is a massive step for him.

However, Campbell has little reservation over his temperament to succeed, saying: “Max is a lad with huge ambitions and, as a family, they are currently clocking up hundreds of miles in Australia to get him competition to aid his progress.

“He is racing against guys of Premier League standard and doing well against them, and travelled to Adelaide recently for basically five second-half races against pretty poor opposition, just to get even more experience. That’s commitment for you.

“Some people have sniped that Max will not be able to maintain his five-point starting average. He doesn’t need to, as long as he is averaging five points at the end of the season. If he improves at the rate he is going, we will be very happy.”

Fricke’s signing has been hailed as bold move by Monarchs bosses and he is the latest in an ever-growing line of Australian riders who have worn the Capital speedway club’s ­famous blue and gold colours.

“It’s what we do,” said Campbell. “It’s the way we have worked for years. We select a rider who we think is good enough and give them the chance to prove it; we do not fail with many. I think our team for this season was very good before we signed Max – now it could be great.”

Fricke has already spoken of his delight that fellow countryman Sam Masters will be a team-mate of his, and Campbell said: “I have already spoken to Sam, who has seen it all, but perhaps not done it all, but he is bound to be a big help to Max. Sam himself will be on something of a learning curve travelling up from Somerset every Friday for our home meetings.

“It has been reported that Max thinks Armadale is a ­technical track, but he was just being polite – he thinks Armadale is great and it is my belief, and Max’s too, that he is a technical rider anyway.”

Campbell added: “When we made a final play to get Andrew Tully back in the team and he declined the chance, we set out on this direction to put the team in place we have got at the ­moment.

“We got six out six of the guys we wanted and it’s a great position to be in, and Max I think is going to do very well for us.”

Monarchs have just the final reserve spot to fill and while many believe Marcel Helfer, who made his debut last ­season but struggled to make an ­impact, especially at home, will be named again, Campbell ­cautioned: “I’m not saying he is the man and I’m not saying everybody deserves a second chance.

“When we have brought riders in before and they haven’t done well, we don’t throw them aside and forget about them, but maybe not this year, but ­another time.”