Max James in action at Armadale last season Image Credit: Peter Hill

Debutant James Ready To Learn

NEWS Wednesday 27th March 2024, 2:00pm

by Graham Muncie

  Edinburgh Monarchs

While there is an air of familiarity with most of the Stellar Monarchs line-up this year, with six of the seven either returning from last year or having had previous spells in the blue and gold, one man for whom it will all be new is young reserve Max James.

James is not only facing the prospect of being new to the team but also to the league as he makes his Cab Direct Championship bow after a strong year for Leicester in the National League last season.

The Sheffield-born youngster is not fazed by the prospect though and can't wait to get started with his new challenge stating, "It is a big step up but it is one I feel I am ready for. Everyone says I am joining a good club and I just want to get started and learn as much as I can - that is what my aim is.

"While I am new to the league, with the points limit and how teams are built, there are a lot of guys in the same position and guys I have raced against and beaten before so that gives me confidence. It is not like I am going out and being expected to beat Sam Masters or someone like that every heat. There are a lot of guys I know I am as quick if not quicker than and to start with I will focus on beating them then improving as the year goes on.

"I also feel like having Armadale as my home track, it will be a big advantage. I had a great meeting there last season and I know it is a place that other riders sometimes don't like so I can use that to my benefit as well. This year is just all about learning and I want to take in as much as I can."

With that ethos of learning in mind, 16-year-old James can't wait to get in amongst his teammates and really pick their brains starting this Friday with the Press and Practice and Season Launch events saying, "I know it's a good team and there is a lot of experience in the team so I will be making sure I am always asking for advice.

"It will really benefit me to be riding with guys that know Armadale inside out and then away from home as well I know I will always be able to ask for advice and help.

"Everyone I have spoken to has said Edinburgh is a good club. I could see for myself last year when on the opposite side of the pits that there was a good spirit in the team so I am looking forward to that as well and really getting to know the guys starting this week."

With a step up in competition there is often an inclination to change things or chase the next best thing engine and set-up wise but James shows his level-headedness when asked about how his equipment is set for the season, "I do like to stick with what I know. If something is working why change it and I felt like I had a good year last year so I just want to build on that.

"We have put some investment in with thanks to some sponsors who came forward after I put out a social media post asking if anyone would like to come on board so I have a new engine that I think will work particularly well at Armadale and I have freshened up some other bits but overall it will all be familiar to me."

The Monarchs faithful will be hopeful that familiarity will help Max achieve his potential this year although when asked if he had any targets in mind he re-iterated it is all about learning and development, "As I have said this year is all about learning for me and I want to take in as much as possible, obviously averages are how you measure success and I want to push that as high as I can but I won't be downhearted if things are tough particularly to start to the season.

"I think it will be a good year though and I can't wait to get started."

The first chance for the Monarchs fans to see Max on track in 2024 comes this Friday with the Press and Practice session open to the public from 1pm at Armadale Stadium before the Season Launch Show at Edinburgh Napier University Craiglockhart Campus at 7.30pm.

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