Craig Cook became a speedway record breaker for the second time in three days at Glasgow Tigers yesterday.
After smashing the Armadale track record on Friday, Cook shaved a full second off the Ashfield time which had stood since 2011, when he stormed to victory in he fifth race in 57.00 seconds, on his way to leading Monarchs to a hard-fought 48-42 Premier League win which hoists the Capital side into fourth in the table.
Cook, who scored 13 points overall, said: “I had it in my head that if I made a good gate in that race I would go all out to claim the record and I managed to do it by a full second which I feel really good about.”
The notion that Monarchs would repeat their League Cup mauling of their oldest rivals earlier in the season never looked likely as the recently beefed-up Tigers squad made Monarchs battle for every point. And while the Tigers are still nothing like the finished article, their willingness to spoil for a fight at least displayed a determination to try to stop the current bad run they are on.
This was a bit of a slog-fest and, with the scores tied 21-21 after seven races, the Tigers who scented victory, but the next heat shattered their aspirations and proved to be the turning point of the meeting.
Monarchs skipper Derek Sneddon and reserve Max Fricke were out against Jonas Raun and Joe Jacobs and while Sneddon was inhaling fresh air in front, Fricke was having a slightly torrid time as he tried to make inroads on the Tigers pair, who got themselves into a bit of a pickle. This opened up the door for the young Aussie to nip under Jacobs, before reeling in Raun on the final corner to give Monarchs a vital 5-1 success and a four-point lead.
This was extended to six when Cook and Sneddon grabbed a 4-2 in heat 11, and with the final four races all shared, Monarchs held on to claim three match points. It would have been the full four had they taken a 4-2 in the last race, but Claus Vissing was unable to get past James Grieves and Henning Bager.
However, Cook was more than satisfied with the final outcome, saying: “I knew it would be a tough meeting and not a walk in the park like it was the last time. Glasgow were on their game this time and made life pretty hard. They have definitely improved as a team and got their act together.”
Cook, who dropped his only points to Tigers captain Joe Screen in heat 13, after pipping him to victory in the opening race when he made an error on the final turn, added: “It was hard-going overall. The track was a bit wavy and you had to attack it and ride it hard to get any benefit, otherwise you suffered. Getting the win was the thing that mattered most and we need to carry our form into our next meeting.”
The one partnership that fell short of expectations was the Jozsef Tabaka /Theo Pijper pairing who failed to win a race between them and their trio of shared races certainly burdened their team-mates to a degree as the match wore on.
Tabaka said: “I found it quite difficult. I never really got going, conditions were pretty tough out on the track.”
Mitchell Davey made his long-awaited comeback from injury and although he failed to score from his three outings, the Monarchs tail-ender was just glad to be back in the saddle. He said: “I felt okay and I had a physio with me in the pits. My problem was that I couldn’t make any decent starts. My wrist is still not 100 per cent, I have got 50 per cent movement which still allowed me to get the throttle full out.
“I thought the track was a bit rough, but it was good that everybody in the team all scored which took the pressure off me a little. I felt I was ready to make my return from injury and hopefully I will get among the points in the return match at Armadale on Friday.”
For Tigers team manager Sean Courtney, this second loss to Monarchs at Ashfield was a pretty bitter pill to swallow. “Obviously we performed better than we did against Monarchs in the League Cup, but you can’t be happy about being beaten,” he said.
“I think we pushed them pretty well. One or two things didn’t go our way, especially in heat eight when our two guys got themselves in a bit of a muddle and we gave away a 5-1 when we were on a 3-3 – that turned the match in Edinburgh’s favour.
“We don’t like losing and I’m not a good loser. We need to be winning and while we saw a better display from Henning (Bager) we cannot get everybody going at the same time, and that’s our problem. But we can’t give up or get demoralised, we just need to keep going. I am the Glasgow manager and proud to be so, and I’m just as deflated as our supporters.”
Tigers’ top scorer was James Grieves with 12 points from five starts and he was well supported by Bager who weighed in with ten.
Glasgow: Grieves 12, Bager 10, Screen 8, Compton 6, Jacobs 3, Raun 2, Ringwood 1.
Monarchs: Cook 13, Vissing 10, Fricke 8, Pijper 7, Tabaka 5, Sneddon 5, Davey 0.