NEWS Friday 4th March 2022, 2:00pm
It's a happy 28th birthday today (Friday) to the new Monarchs' signing Michele 'Paco' Castagna, looking forward to the next stage in his career at Armadale in 2022. We asked him the obvious question – is he happy to be coming to ride for the Monarchs?
He said "100%! It has been a tough winter organising everything but it was good to sign a contract with a team that it seems every year is going forward and forward, trying to make it to the Playoffs. I wanted to move to a team that always wants to win and also always seems to get along.
"Yes we took time to arrange the contract but in my head I wanted to do it. I'm coming up north which will make it tough to get everything organised, where I am going to live and arranging the travel, but I am very, very happy about it."
The signing has been welcomed by Monarchs' fans on social media, which the rider has noted. "I hope I can give a bit back and score as many points as I can. It's a very tough track to come to but on the other side, once you get dialled in you can produce many points. Everybody knows how strong Edinburgh is at home."
In fact on his most recent visit he already seemed dialled in, scoring 8+4 in the Brummies' league visit last September. "I was very happy with that one because the first time I was there I only scored one point, the second time it was rained off but I had a heat win under my belt so I was very pleased with that, then the last time I did much better. So by the look of it, it just takes a bit of time to get dialled in."
Paco is already well acquainted with some of the team and doesn't see a problem assisting with bringing the younger riders into the fold. "There's a lot of experience in the team with Sam and Josh, they are very helpful and friendly to work with. I am looking forward to working together with all of the team. I got to know Kye Thomson through Nick Morris, I get on very well with him. I don't know if I'll be paired up with him but I like the way he rides the bike, and he's pretty safe as well, so I would be very happy to ride with him.
"I know James Sarjeant from the Ipswich days when we were young kids, and then you know the others in the team will be pretty easy to get to know because we will be spending time together. I know it will be Lasse Fredriksen's first time in the UK but we can help him out, and also Jacob Hook is very young and inexperienced. They will want to win, we will help them and hopefully the results will come."
He will be the third Italian to ride for Monarchs, following Stefano Alfonso (1996-7) and Daniele Tessari (2006-7). "Stefano used to ride with my dad, and Tessari always talks to me about Edinburgh. I'm very good friends with him, he came back racing speedway in the last couple of years. He told me if I go to Edinburgh he wants to come and visit because he has a lot of friends there. So he will come with me to some meetings, he has a lot of memories there."
Double Italian Champ Paco has had a successful winter and like most riders wants to be as busy as possible during the summer. "I went to Argentina to race in the winter and won the Championship there, it was a perfect preparation for the coming season because we did 13 meetings. I will come to the UK having ridden a few more meetings than many others.
"This year I will be racing for a team in the Danish League. I am part of a squad so they select the team racing each week. It's looking promising, I will be pretty busy, also doing the World and European qualifying rounds for Italy."
Will his dad Armando, a double figure man at Armadale amongst his many accomplishments, be coming over to watch son race for his Scottish team? "He's way too busy with the FIM at the moment but having raced for many years in the UK he would like to visit, he has a lot of nice memories there. He'd love to be there but it's a busy calendar!"