Form and financial woes drive Cook round the bend

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Struggling Edinburgh Monarchs heat leader Craig Cook today confessed to being on a “downward spiral” after revealing he is losing races he is capable of winning because he has no money to maintain his machinery.

Cook, who faces Newport Wasps at Armadale tonight, also spoke of mounting debts he needs to pay off and added that, unless he finds sponsorship over the winter, he may not be able to afford to ride next season. The 24-year-old Cumbrian rider, who joined Monarchs from Workington Comets this year, failed to impress in Monarchs’ home and away fixtures against Leicester Lions last week, winning just one race at home which provoked some booing from the terraces.

This left Cook deflated despite the fact he is trying everything he knows to rectify his bike gremlins. Talking frankly to the Evening News, Cook said: “I’m having so many bike problems, my head is pretty much done in. I’m putting more effort in now and trying a lot harder than I did at the start of the season.

“I’m not scoring the points which is quite disappointing because I’m getting criticised quite a lot. I’m putting so much effort in to try and figure things out but nothing seems to be working. I’ve sorted my motor problems, but I seem to be burning clutches out all the time. I’m not doing anything different from before, I don’t know what is wrong but something isn’t the same.”

Despite defeating Leicester big guns Kauko Nieminen and Viktor Bergstrom in the Lothian Arena clash for that sole race victory, Cook admitted: “I wasn’t happy and it was a very disappointing display from me because I know I’m capable of winning every race I enter. To get six points at home and then pick up just four at Leicester is heartbreaking and disheartening for me. I was trying so hard in both matches but just couldn’t get off the start line, I couldn’t gate and I need to figure out what is wrong.”

Cook says his finances have hit the skids, placing a question mark over his future for 2012. “It’s just trying to maintain my bikes,” said Cook. “Speedway is an expensive sport and unfortunately I’ve had very little sponsorship this season. I’ve done it all off my own back. To be honest I have not got the money to maintain my bikes and I’ve got £5000 in bills to pay off. Things are going from bad to worse because I haven’t got the equipment to go out and win races. It’s a downward spiral I’m on. I’m going to have to go on a sponsorship hunt over the winter. And if I don’t find any backing then I will have to make a decision over whether I’ll be riding next season. All I want to do is look after my bike and be the best rider I can. I want to get to the top in speedway and one day be world champion, I believe I can do that, I just need some guidance. I’ve only been racing speedway for three years and I’m still as green as grass. I’m not as experienced as some of the guys in the Premier League, but I think I’ve achieved quite a lot already.”

Cook lost many of his sponsors when he left Workington and says: “If Monarchs want me to ride for them next season, and I hope they do, I need help and if I don’t get it, I don’t think I’ll be riding.”

Cook knows he has to put his current troubles to the back of his mind and concentrate on helping Monarchs swat the Wasps tonight. The Welshmen will be in high spirits in the wake of their Knockout Cup triumph against Glasgow Tigers, and if Monarchs are as shaky as they have been at home over the last fortnight, Newport might not be as forgiving as Somerset and Leicester were.

Cook knows Monarchs will have to be on form to stop Wasps adding to their four away wins. He said: “Newport are a solid side and have good riders in their team and we need to be ruthless from the start. If I could score a 15-point maximum that would put a smile back on my face.”