Team Manager: Alex Harkess
|1. Ricky Wells||3||2*||3||3||3||14||1|
|2. Victor Palovaara||1||3||0||1||5||0|
|3. Josh Pickering||2||2||3||2*||9||1|
|4. Mark Riss||0||0||2*||3||5||1|
|5. Erik Riss||3||2||2||2*||2*||11||2|
|6. Max Ruml||2||1*||1*||4||2|
|7. Joel Andersson||1*||1||3||3||1||9||1|
Team Manager: Scott Courtney
|1. Aaron Summers||0||3||3||1||0||7||0|
|2. Kevin Doolan||2||1||1*||0||4||1|
|3. Jye Etheridge||3||0||2||0||5||0|
|4. David Howe||1||3||0||2||1||7||0|
|5. Nikolaj Busk Jakobsen||2||1||1||0||4||0|
|6. Dany Gappmaier||0||0||0||0||0|
|7. Theo Pijper||3||0||2||1||0||6||0|
The Staggs Bar Monarchs hit their stride tonight in no uncertain fashion and finished the first leg of the KO Cup quarter final tie against Berwick 24 points to the good, 57-33. Every team member contributed strongly and in a highly entertaining meeting, turned a tight 4-point lead after heat 8 into a substantial lead by the end.
New signing Victor Palovaara seemed to bring greater solidity to the side and got off to a great start with a point from the back in heat 1 and a win in heat 6 – and this on borrowed machinery. He said "I felt these first two rides were quite tricky, and I will feel more comfortable when I can look down and see that I am on my own stuff. But the guys in the team spoke to me like I had been there all season and made me feel at home. Berwick is a tricky track, I have only been there twice but I think we can go down there and enjoy ourselves."
It was by far Monarchs' best performance of the season. The home reserves both showed great tenacity and between them totalled 13+3, very encouraging for both. Max Ruml did lose his fourth ride in heat 14 but only because Joel Andersson was even more impressive and had won two heats, and in a cup tie every point is potentially crucial.
Ricky Wells was simply superb, Erik Riss only slightly less so (5-1 advantages to our top two in heats 13 and 15) but the truly spectacular rider on the night was Josh Pickering with some breathtaking overtakes, especially heat 12 when it seemed impossible that he would stay on his bike outside Jye Etheridge. But he did, and got round his fellow Aussie in amazing style.
Berwick put up strong opposition in the early stages and gated well for much of the meeting. It was very encouraging to see Palovaara slip inside Summers to give us an advantage in heat 1, and while Theo Pijper was an impressive winner in heat 2, the home pair both passed Gappmaier.
Referee Jim McGregor got into the action in heat 3, warning both of the home riders after a jumpy start. It's not often that two riders get a warning in the same heat, and it was a debateable decision, but thankfully it had no subsequent effect. Jye Etheridge won the rerun after strong pressure from Josh Pickering and with Mark Riss at the back the scores were levelled.
Erik Riss won heat 4 but all eyes were on Joel Andersson who pulled off a great ride to snatch third on the line from Theo Pijper. Once again though our middle pair conceded a 4-2 to level the scores and Mark Riss wasn't off the mark yet. Scores after 5 heats were 15-15.
A great first turn by Palovaara took him ahead down the back straight in heat 6 with Jakobsen second, a fair bit clear of Ricky wells. However Ricky held a very tight turn and drove hard past Jakobsen entering lap three, powering under the Dane to join Victor for the 5-1 that gave Monarchs a 4-point advantage.
Heat 7 was shared with David Howe winning, and heat 8 was another excellent ride by Joel Andersson showing how well he is learning to use the inside line of the fourth corner. He caught race leader Theo Pijper to win the heat on the line.
That left the score balanced at 26-22 and few would have predicted the way in which Monarchs would then take control of the match. Pickering and Riss took a 5-1 over the slightly disappointing Jakobsen, and we took a 4-2 through Wells and Palovaara in heat 10. Ricky had to keep the throttle wound on to go ahead of the faster gating Etheridge into the third turn.
Aaron Summers got his second win in heat 11 over Erik Riss, but there was a good point for Max Ruml ahead of Doolan. And then we had heat 12.
What a stonking heat this was. Anyone could be forgiven for averting their gaze when a race like this is on-track. Joel Andersson rode a strong first bend to go ahead with Pijper and Etheridge in the minor places and Pickering at one point fairly far back. He came on strong outside Etheridge, miraculously staying on at the third bend when there seemed to be absolutely no room. He wound the throttle on again to sweep round Etheridge, and then again to pass Pijper! An extraordinary ride which deservedly won him Monarch of the Match.
For the sake of our nerves it was probably a good thing that was Josh's last ride. Ricky and Erik took control of heat 13 and repeated it in 15, and in between A rejuvenated Mark Riss won heat 14 with Joel Andersson getting the better of Pijper again. Over the last four heats we outscored the Bandits 19-5.
Everyone knows after such an excellent display that we are now favourites to go through. However we will need cool heads, hard work and no complacency tomorrow and for sure our guys know that.
Everyone agrees that this weekend's Knockout Cup ties could go either way on aggregate, and it seems to be the classic Top-heavy team v Solid team. Time will tell if that's how it plays out.
From the point of view of the Staggs Bar Monarchs, clearly we have to look to Ricky Wells and Erik Riss to produce their usual high level of performance in both legs. Were anything to go wrong for either of them, it's hard to see where we would get the points to compensate.
That doesn't mean the others are not important because of course two riders can't win a 30-heat speedway contest. We are looking for everyone to step up, we need points from new boy Victor Palovaara, from our middle pair of Josh Pickering and Mark Riss, and from our new reserve pairing of Joel Andersson and Max Ruml.
There's no denying that it is disappointing to find both Joel and Max falling from their starting figure of 5.2 to the minimum of 4, with their true figures even lower. But rather than dwell on that, we need to take advantage of having these two at reserve. Joel's form has been improving, and it's time for Max to pick things up as well.
In that middle pair, neither Josh nor Mark can claim to be consistent enough to be called a heat leader yet, but between them they should be solid. How Victor will do on his debut on borrowed machinery, is even harder to judge.
Of course in all this speculation over what everyone might do, the Bandits play a part. They are not there to lay down and gift us points.
Aaron Summers has in recent times tended to be a mix of wins and lasts over an evening, he needs to improve on that kind of showing and maximise the victories. His partner Kevin Doolan we can probably assume will do well.
Jye Etheridge would love to put one over on us, obviously, since we left him out of our side a couple of seasons back in the most highly-publicised team change ever (they are still going on about it). So far he hasn't really punished us at Armadale. His partner David Howe was once one of the most consistently excellent visitors and he can still win heats.
Nikolai Busk Jakobsen is a good gater so we will need to keep him under pressure in the early stages of his heats. Austrian reserve Dany Gappmaier also gets out of the traps well though he has not yet shown his ability at Armadale.
Nobody knows the circuit better than Theo Pijper, and we know what he can do. He can gate too, and then he will go just fast enough, looking back at every turn, to stay in front. This is his 194th meeting at the track.
Berwick are strong at home with seven regular race winners in their side. Therefore we are looking for a lead well into double figures to take to the borders tomorrow. Every point will count tonight which will make it a meeting worth being at.
Friday 29th June 2018, 9:52pm
The Staggs Bar Monarchs defeated the Berwick Bandits by 57-33 in the first leg of the Knock Out Cup Quarter Final tonight at Armadale Stadium. Ricky Well scored a paid maximum with Aaron Summers and David Howe top scoring for the Bandits with 7.
Thursday 28th June 2018, 10:57am
Big crowds are expected at Armadale and Shielfield Park for this weekend's Knockout Cup quarter Final tie between the Staggs Bar Monarchs and the Berwick Bandits. Travelling fans will augment the home supports and the atmosphere should be electric.
Tuesday 26th June 2018, 6:00am
The next action for the Staggs Bar Monarchs is the home and away Knock Out Cup quarter final against Berwick with the first leg at Armadale on Friday and the deciding leg at Berwick on Saturday.