Speedway: Edinburgh ace Craig is Rider Champ

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Craig COOK became the first Edinburgh Monarchs rider since Peter Carr in 1997 to be crowned Premier League Riders’ Champion when he stormed to glory at Sheffield’s Owlerton Stadium yesterday, writes DAVID KINVIG.

It was a deserved triumph for the Englishman, who put his disappointment over Monarchs’ play-off defeat at Workington Comets the night before to one side, as he was the top scorer in the qualifying heats.

Cook said: “I don’t know how I stayed calm during the time it took to race the Grand Final. It hasn’t really sunk in yet, I guess it will soon. I hope I get some publicity now, I haven’t had much recently!”

He went on: “I would like to thank everybody at Edinburgh and also all the supporters who have been fantastic to me this season – I definitely want to be back at Armadale in 2013.”

Cook, who has endured an injury-interrupted 2012 campaign, won his first two races in comfortable style from the better inside gate, then showed coolness and skill to work his way into second place in each of his other outings. He went straight into the final where he was joined by Somerset’s Jason Doyle, Rye House ace Anders Mellgren and Workington’s Rene Bach. But the final took three attempts to run after Bach crashed into the safety fence at the first time of asking. The same fate befell Doyle in the rerun, leaving Cook and Mellgren as the only two standing to battle it out for the silverware.

After a lengthy delay when nerves must have become frayed, the Monarchs No.1 made sure of success when he made a brilliant start, moving across to stop Mellgren making any kind of move on him. And after four untroubled laps when his heart must have been beating like mad, Cook sailed home to take the chequered flag which sent the travelling Monarchs support into raptures.

Cook added: “I won the 
National League Riders’ Championship three years ago, so this is another step up the ladder for me.”

Monarchs’ other representative Theo Pijper scored three points.