REPORT Friday 1st July 2022, 11:34pm
The What the Fork Monarchs celebrated having their full septet back on track with an excellent showing tonight, recording their highest league win of the season by 56-34 against Scunthorpe. Sam Masters led the way again with a full maximum but all of the team contributed well.
Team boss Alex Harkess said "I was pleased that everyone in the team did their bit. Lasse Fredriksen did especially well with three paid wins on his comeback after having five weeks out and I was happy we didn't have a last heat decider to face for a change. We've got some important matches coming up so it was an encouraging night."
Scunthorpe had injury problems in their side but contributed to a decent evening's entertainment, first and foremost Ryan Douglas who was one of the best visiting riders of the season.
The evening started with the all-too-familiar scene of a rain shower falling around start time, but fortunately it passed quickly and didn't restart.
The track looked a bit slippery for heat 1, won easily by Sam Masters, but all eyes were on Lasse Fredriksen making his comeback after injury. He could have been excused for taking this cautiously but he rode brilliantly to come inside both Douglas and Lambert for a paid win and a 5-1 start.
The young Norwegian went on to take three paid wins, only missing out in heat 8 when he could not catch Simon Lambert and Zaine Kennedy. His score of 7 paid 10 was quite an achievement in the circumstances and it was revealed along with the announcement that he had been voted Monarch of the Match, that his parent were in the crowd to watch him.
The other Monarch returning from injury, James Sarjeant, took longer to get going and had early bike problems, but he finished with a flying win. Indeed there were no weak links in the lineup, Kye Thomson was excellent in dropping just one point, Paco Castagna had two race wins and Jacob Hook whilst not getting a huge score, rode very solidly and is coming on week by week.
Josh Pickering had some red-blooded encounters with his excellent fellow Aussie Ryan Douglas, and in this case it was the visitor who came out on top 3-1 in their encounters. Not many people achieve that nowadays!
Pickering produced another of the night's highlights when he flew past Theo Pijper in heat 4, making his usual good use of the outside line which up to that point riders had been wary of using after the rain. From then on there didn't seem to be any track problems.
Rob Godfrey apologised for his team's performance when interviewed, but really there was no need for that – in addition to Douglas, Simon Lambert was always in the thick of things and Zaine Kennedy was a very competitive reserve. Theo Pijper's score didn't reflect his performance, it's always tough at no. 5, and new signing James Wright whilst a little disappointing, came good in the end. It certainly wasn't a bad meeting.
Scunthorpe will be expecting to turn the tables when the teams meet in the return on Sunday. Monarchs will certainly have been encouraged by their display tonight and will look for at least a point, but Sunday's match and next Friday's visit by Poole will be very testing.