Four Favourites Return

NEWS Friday 1st December 2017, 9:00pm

by Mike Hunter

Team news from the Parsons Peebles Monarchs announced tonight at the Video Night is that Ricky Wells, Erik and Mark Riss and Josh Pickering will all be returning for the 2018 season.

The return of Josh Pickering for 2018 will be very popular with the Monarchs’ fans who took to him right away last year, right from the moment he led the opening heat of the Scottish Open before falling on the last lap! Here was a trier and that impression never changed.

With a year’s experience under his belt Josh intends to put that to good use. He said “It’s a massive learning curve but I have learnt a lot about Speedway and also learnt a lot about myself.

“I’m aiming to get out of the gate better next season, I know it is an important part of racing because it is not always the quickest rider who wins.

“I did have a few offers from other teams but I always wanted to come back to Edinburgh because I felt very welcome there, part of a team, and we were treated with respect. My partner Brooke felt the same way.

“Although the chance to double up hasn’t come my way yet I’d grab it with both hands if it did. Here in Australia I’m too old for the Under-21s now but I’ll be riding as much as I can, and I have the NSW Championship this Saturday.”

We spoke to Ricky in Arizona and he was very enthusiastic about his return. He said “Last season was good, a great season for the club. I think it was better in the beginning. We reached the semi-final of the Playoffs and just lost by a couple of points. Overall I was very happy last year, with both of my clubs. I haven’t been at a better Premier League club than Edinburgh and it’s pretty well-known that Sam thinks the same way. He was kind of the one who told me it’s really good.

“I didn’t really want to go anywhere else. It’s great to be back, and to be fixed up for the first week in December is great as well, it will let me get organised before Christmas.

“I hadn’t actually realised I had put a point on my average and I see no reason why I can’t increase it again. Last season I struggled for a couple of months around World Cup time, but we got that sorted, came back and did OK. I finished up last season at no. 1.

“At Workington I used to love heat one, I won a lot of them, but for some reason I struggled with heat one at Edinburgh and not just off the outside gate. I messed up a little bit and frustrated me, got me a little bit wound up. I got my act together and got going.

“I want to ride at no. 1 but whoever fills the other six spots in the team should also be looking at it and saying ‘I want to be no. 1’. It’s good to have that rivalry in the team. We had a bit of that with me and Sam last year.

“I’m looking forward to it, the main goal is to maintain or increase my average and do a true no. 1’s job.

Everyone knows Ricky’s capabilities, with for example scores of 15, paid 17 and 15 at Sheffield, Newcastle and Redcar respectively last season.

“Of these three Redcar was probably the one that stood out for me. Though Sheffield was the hardest place to go. I had never beaten Grajczonek round there so against him I got my head down and never looked back for four laps. The Redcar one was quite annoying because I made the gate in my first one and crashed all by myself, which is not really like me.

“I remember sitting in my pit bay and John put a tactical ride on me, so I thought ‘Well he has some faith in me’ and I reeled off four straight wins. On the drive home I thought ‘That should have been an 18 point max with the TR’. Annoying but at least I recovered well and I beat Ben Barker twice! I know how quick he is because we are team mates at Rye House.

“At Newcastle it was one of these meetings when so much went wrong! In heat 15 I broke a spoke. I was at the starting line and trying to pull the spoke out with my glove feeling like the spoke was going to break in my hand, and starting to panic! I almost lost a sprocket in my first race.

“I wondered how I ended up on 17 points! But it happened and heat 15 was pretty exciting with me and Erik Riss and hopefully we can have every meeting of the season like that next year.”

Ricky outlined his plans for the remainder of the winter. “I’m currently at my dad’s place in Arizona, I’m travelling between hear and my mum’s house in California. It’s been great cruising around. You lose a lot of strength and fitness during the season and get worn down. I was pretty drained towards the end though healthy enough. It’s good to recharge the batteries and have 3 or 4 weeks of good weather over here.

“I’m racing at Paris on the 9th of December, then I’m jumping on a plane to New Zealand where my sister and her husband are having a kid, a boy, so I’m going down there. The first grandson for my mum and dad.

“Then I’m going over to Australia where I am riding in the Boxing Day meeting, I enjoy that. Then back to New Zealand to learn how to hold a baby! I’ll probably do New Year there.

“After New Year I’ll head back to California and start preparing though I’m already quite prepared for next season.

“I enjoy the off-season. I finished last season on 87 meetings, the majority in the UK.”

We will catch up with the Riss brothers over the weekend and bring you their thoughts. Erik is currently staying with Josh in Australia.

As announced yesterday, 2017 captain Sam Masters, winner of so many honours with the club, has decided that he needs to opt out of the Championship next summer and will not be with us.

Further targets are being actively pursued to complete our 2018 lineup.