Craig Cook hunts for recipe that works

Craig Cook says he should have rested against Newcastle. Picture: Ron MacNeill
Craig Cook says he should have rested against Newcastle. Picture: Ron MacNeill
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Edinburgh Monarchs speedway captain Craig Cook today admitted that things “haven’t gone my way” so far this season.

Cook also apologised to his team-mates after his performance against Newcastle Diamonds at Armadale on Friday in which he picked up just six points, including a retiral in his last outing when lying fourth.

The Englishman said he should have pulled out of the Premier League fixture which Monarchs won 52-40 after suffering severe headaches two days beforehand.

Cook added that he was also still under the weather following a heavy tumble he took against Scunthorpe Scorpions at the Lothian Arena the previous week.

He said: “I was really struggling with my fitness after my crash against Scunthorpe and really shouldn’t have attempted to ride as I wasn’t 100 per cent. I’m sorry to my team.”

Cook has changed a few things machinery wise this year and this trial and error period has seen his scores slip to a certain degree which has been reflected in the fact that Sam Masters is now No.1 in the side’s averages.

Cook said: “Things have not gone my way so far this year, it’s partly bad luck and you just have to take the rough with the smooth. I have had two brilliant years and I just need to try and keep it going and not let it get to me.”

But Cook insists if he wants to move forward in the sport you have to take some hits. “It’s all about progression, I’ve changed a few things this year and I’m not as comfortable as I was. I feel comfortable enough, but things on my bike act a little differently now.

“At Scunthorpe in our return match last week I used one of my new engines from Ash-Tech and it was a lot faster to what I’m used to, it give me a bit of a ride at times!

“Once I get used to everything the scores should start to come back. It’s hit and miss and I’ve got more work to do. I shouldn’t be dropping many points in the Premier League if I want to get to the standard I want to, but if you don’t try new things you are not going to progress.

“But sometimes you have to take a step back to go two steps forward.”

Cook has always hankered to make his mark on the global stage but suffered disappointment in his Speedway Grand Prix qualifier in Lonigo, Italy, recently where his Elite League Belle Vue colleague and former Monarch Max Fricke finished in second position.

“I got everything wrong at Lonigo,” said Cook. “I screwed up on the set-ups and the bike was giving me a hell of a ride. Even although the track was slick I felt as if it was dragging me into the corner.”

Cook’s gloominess over his own personal displays has not clouded his delight at the start Monarchs have made to the defence of their championship crown and their 50-40 away win at Scunthorpe, the first of the campaign, he described as a “fantastic” performance.

“We won at Scunthorpe last year as well,” he said. “It was a great win this time too, but I don’t know what Rob Godfrey (Scunthorpe boss) was thinking of with the track preparation.

“He just floods the place and goes round with the tractor a few times. I’ve no idea how it wins Track of the Year.

“The racing is good because the riders’ make so many mistakes which provides plenty of passing. The track is a great shape and could produce a lot of racing. But if it was prepared better and not watered so much it would produce even better racing.

“I struggled in my first heat and was probably over-geared. So I made a couple of changes and I got a better ride.

“I was racing the bike hard and it felt smooth and I got a good win from the back in my third heat.

“Rob (Branford) was struggling a bit with the set-ups and probably went the wrong way so I advised him to make further changes and just put the bike round the outside; it seemed to work.”