Opening start of the season Image Credit: Jack Cupido

Monarchs on top in a great opener

NEWS Friday 15th April 2022, 10:55pm

by Mike Hunter

It was a thoroughly satisfactory opening night from the WTF Monarchs' point of view tonight, a 50-40 win in a match expected to be very tough, with all of the home boys looking effective in their positions and the top two of Sam Masters and Josh Pickering in superb form.

The meeting of course started on a desperately sad note as everyone stood in shock for a minute to remember the late Nigel Pearson.

The action had to go on though and the first heat set the tone of the night as Sam Masters held off a strong early challenge from Chris Harris, while Lasse Fredriksen settled into a steady third place, a great start for the Norwegian who made a first class debut.

Monarchs' team manager Alex Harkess said "I was really happy with the team's performance, it was everything I hoped it would be. All 7 of them were very competitive and obviously Lasse Fredriksen made a great debut with 5 points including a win. It was a tight match most of the way but Sam and Josh were devastating in heats 13 and 15."

After that opening advantage to Monarchs, the Bandits took the next four race winners, taking the score to 15-15 after 5 heats. Jacob Hook, like Fredriksen, took a steady point in his Monarchs' debut ride.

Monarchs edged ahead again in heat 6, Masters getting the better of Wells and Fredriksen doing well to head home Etheridge. Pickering scorched away from Pijper and Flint in heat 7, then we had the very pleasing sight of the Norwegian taking a heat 8 race win over Etheridge (in for tape-toucher Proctor) and Bickley.

Heat 9 was a sensational battle as Paco Castagna really came to the fore in a tremendous race with Ricky Wells. Paco led the way but Ricky seemed to edge past at least twice, only for the Italian to force his way back to the front. Ricky rode a very fair race to give him room.

Wins for Masters and Pickering kept Monarchs' lead at 4, then Castagna and Sarjeant shared heat 12 behind Theo Pijper. So Monarchs had arrived at heat 13 four points up with their big guns firing, and it was no huge surprise even against Harris and Wells that they took a comfortable 5-1.

An 8-point advantage thus allowed Ricky Wells to come in as tac sub, indeed he and Flint led the way out of the second bend. However a determined ride by Kye Thomson saw him pass Flint for a match-winning second place.

Berwick then needed a shared final heat to take a point, against you-know-who. Captain Masters raced off, but Josh was behind the Bandits for the opening lap. Everyone was riding wide by this stage, but Josh pulled off an incredible move to get between the visitors and the fence, then somehow avoided piling into Sam as they tore into the third corner of lap two.

A sensational ride which meant Berwick going home pointless. In truth, they didn't do enough to deserve a point, whereas Monarchs can be extremely happy with their opening display.