Monarchs’ Craig Cook second in British Final

Craig Cook, left, on the podium with winner Tai Woffinden, centre, and Ben Barker

Craig Cook, left, on the podium with winner Tai Woffinden, centre, and Ben Barker

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Edinburgh Monarchs No.1 Craig Cook turned in a superb performance to finish second in last night’s British Final speedway championship at Wolverhampton’s Monmore Green stadium which secured him the wild card entrant for the British Grand Prix at Cardiff next month.

Cook scored 13 points in the qualifying heats and, in a high-voltage Grand Final race-off for the domestic crown, he tackled defending champion Tai Woffinden, Ben Barker and Chris Harris.

In a nerve-jangling race that had to be rerun three times, Barker made the gate but was passed by Woffinden on the back straight. Woffinden, who won the Swedish Grand Prix round on Saturday, never looked back after that, taking the chequered flag to clinch back-to-back British titles.

But Cook faced a real battle for the podium spot and was in last position after making a mess of the first bend. However, the Monarchs ace brilliantly surged past Barker and Harris to claim the runner-up spot with Barker finishing third.

It has long been Cook’s dream to ride in the Cardiff Grand Prix, although he was reserve for the event on one occasion. Cook said afterwards: “It would have been good to be British champion but Tai is a worthy winner again. I’m extremely happy to have won the wild card for the British Grand Prix and it gives me a big chance to show everybody what I can do. It’s a massive opportunity for me.”

Monarchs director Mike Hunter, who was in attendance, said: “This was an important result for Craig simply to prove to people like Team GB manager Alun Rossiter that he is capable of competing against the big boys and not being overawed in their company.”

Meanwhile, Cook’s battle to ride in the Grand Prix series regularly in 2015 continues with Saturday’s 16-man semi-final round in Croatia. Cook will be available for Monarchs’ home fixture against Rye House Rockets on Friday, catching a flight to Croatia on Saturday morning.