Speedway: Monarchs rule as Tigers hunted down

Craig Cook takes the lead by driving under Glasgow star Joe Screen. Picture: Ron MacNeill
Craig Cook takes the lead by driving under Glasgow star Joe Screen. Picture: Ron MacNeill
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Suspicions that Glasgow Tigers’ new-look speedway squad was a bit threadbare were clinically exposed by Edinburgh Monarchs in last night’s one-sided Spring Trophy encounter at Armadale Stadium.

Monarchs crushed their nearest neighbours 59-31 which makes the second leg almost academic – whenever a date is found for it. No one was entirely certain about how well the 
respective debutants of both teams would perform and in Glasgow’s case only one of their new Aussie duo, Joey Ringwood, gave any indication that he could develop into a handy rider.

Ringwood picked up four points which included victory over Monarchs’ Dane Claus Vissing in heat 11, but Vissing was riding under a handicap when Glasgow’s veteran ace Joe Screen got his foot caught in Vissing’s back wheel, leaving his rival to ride round with no spokes.

Vissing was riding Armadale for the first time and was relatively happy with his eight-point total, and his first win in Monarchs colours at home against Joe Jacobs and James Grieves in heat 13 gave him 
particular satisfaction.

“I was pretty happy with how things went for me, but I will definitely do much better when I settle down and have more time on the track,” said Vissing. “Although Armadale is a small circuit I thought it rode like a much bigger track.

“It was quite tricky out there with the starting gate now on the old back straight. And if you are off gate four it’s not an ideal position. You really need to get a flier from that gate in order to get round the first bend, it’s a bit awkward.”

Teenager Max Fricke, having failed to score at Berwick last week, was especially keen to atone for that despite the fact that nobody is placing any pressure on him. The 17-year-old rider picked up one point in heat five and it was well deserved after Ringwood pushed him out wide going into the first corner. Ringwood lost control on the fourth corner, though, and Fricke sailed through to claim third place which was some sort of justice. Fricke added to that with a further third place finish in heat 14.

“I could have done better, I’m trying to get some new bike set-ups organised but these things take time. But I’m getting there,” said Fricke.

Monarchs captain Derek Sneddon came a poor third place in his opening race but rallied after that and finished on seven points, and overall he said the whole team had performed brilliantly. “It was a fantastic team effort,” he said, “And it was just the sort of big win we all wanted to kick-start our home season, everything felt good.”

Monarchs were frankly in easy street before the interval when they led 32-16 and the Tigers simply were unable to respond, nor did they ever look likely to. 
Clearly Monarchs’ No. 1 Craig Cook and Theo Pijper are 
going to present major problems for a lot of visiting riders this season. Both men scored paid maximums and always looked in complete control.

They have infused Monarchs with a real degree of solidity in the upper echelons of the squad.

“I had a good meeting,” said Cook, “and to kick off with such a big victory against Glasgow was very pleasing indeed and it augurs well for the weeks ahead.”

Monarchs were not lacking at the tail-end either, with reserve Jozsef Tabaka collecting nine points from his four starts, and that included two race wins. Tabaka said: “Very happy with how things went for me, I felt very good about my display and just hope I carry on doing this every week.”

His partner Marcel Helfer didn’t disgrace himself with five points, but the German 
admitted afterwards: “I was quite happy with how things went for me and to score five points in my first home meeting was good, but I think I can do better.”

Glasgow’s top performer was Grieves whose eight-point haul took him over the 1000 points mark scored for a visiting rider at 
Armadale. It was the only good news Tigers had on what was a poor evening for them and their fans.

Monarchs: Cook 14, Pijper 14, Tabaka 9, Vissing 8, Sneddon 7,Helfer 5, Fricke 2.

Glasgow: Grieves 8, Wright 6,, Bager 5, Ringwood 4, Screen 4,Jacobs 4, 
Horwood 0.