Speedway: Craig storms to Open triumph

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EDINBURGH Monarchs ace Craig Cook today declared: “I’m back, baby” after storming to victory in last night’s Scottish Open speedway championship at Armadale.

Cook had said he wasn’t that fussed about winning the title, but he looked as hungry as a wolf as he swept to glory in the Grand Final race-off. His rivals in that showdown were Peterborough’s Patrick Hougaard, three-time winner Rory Schlein, and teammate Theo Pijper. But Cook made a quick start from the inside gate and apart from a wobble coming out of the second bend, the Englishman never looked like being headed.

Cook looked well in command in the qualifying heats, winning his first four rides, and a point from his fifth outing was enough to get him to the final. Cook may have been experimenting with his machinery, but if this is the kind of result it produces, then long may he continue to tinker with his bikes. Speaking after clutching the famous Jack Young Memorial Trophy, Cook said: “I rode hard round the inside, and even although it was slick on the inside, I didn’t want to go all the way round the outside.

“So I hugged the white line, but was always taken for a ride coming out of that second bend when I jolted, I thought I was heading for Glasgow, which fortunately I didn’t.

“I feel really good to have won the championship, everything I tried out seemd to work for me and I’m back, baby!”

Hougaard finished runner-up in what was his debut Scottish Open appearance and the Dane was relatively happy at how he rode. “It was good and I enjoyed myself. I struggled at the start of the meeting when I only had three points after two races. I dug in and got better and it was great to make the final. I don’t think anybody was going to catch Craig he made such a good start and he was away after that.” For Pijper it was a bit of a personal triumph to finish third. The Dutchman has gone off the boil a bit in recent week, but insisted he is now back in the zone again.

“I think a lot of the riders in the field were on top form, we also had a lovely track to race on and I think the fans enjoyed the racing on offer,” he said.

“I think I need this to get me back on track,and it’s no disgrace to finish behind Cookie!”

The defending champion, Andrew Tully, made the semi-final but surprisingly tailed in last behind Schlein, Richie Worrall and Ricky Wells, and that spelt the end of Tully’s bid to pull off back-to-back victories.

Overall the meeting did not produce a surfeit of passing and of Monarchs’ other representatives only Max Fricke did himself justice. This might not augur well for Monarchs’ trip to Berwick tonight.

Claus Vissing, who some thought was in with a shout, scored eight points in the qualifiers which wasn’t good enough for a semi-final place.

Result: 1 Craig Cook, 2 Patrick Hougaard, 3 Theo Pijper, 4 Rory Schlein.