PRE-MEETING favourite Craig Cook has dramatically pulled out of tomorrow night’s Ben Fund Bonanza speedway event at Berwick’s Shielfield Park (6:30pm) because he hasn’t got a bike.
The Edinburgh Monarchs No.1 has been busy upgrading his machinery for the start of the domestic season in three weeks time, but revealed he has been let down by suppliers and said he was “distraught” at having to withdraw from the star-studded spectacular which is held in aid of the Speedway Riders Benevolent Fund.
Cook said: “I have been extensively renewing my machinery in preparation for the start of the new season at Armadale and more or less had my bikes pretty much together over this past week.
“I was just awaiting some vital parts to finish them off and my supplier promised he would get them to me on a daily basis, but unfortunately nothing has arrived.
“I did not want to be leaving things until Saturday morning and suddenly discovering I couldn’t race because I had no bike, thus leaving the organisers an almost impossible task of finding a replacement for me.
“So I withdrew yesterday in order not to let anyone down at the last minute. I’m pretty distraught and was looking forward to making my debut in the meeting because it’s held in such a good cause, but these things happen – it can’t be helped.”
Joe Haines replaces Cook, who is hoping to have his bikes ready to do some testing at Leicester next week.
Team-mate Theo Pijper now carries the flag for Monarchs on his own, and the flying Dutchman, who added almost two points to his average last season, certainly cannot be discounted for a rostrum spot, but faces stiff opposition from the likes of Ipswich Witches big winter signing Ben Barker and Eastbourne Eagles former Monarch, Cameron Woodward.
But Pijper is upbeat about his chances and said: “I’m definitely pleased to be riding and it’s good that the event is being held north of the Border for the first time. There are a lot of good riders in the field, but I like Berwick as a track and have always done quite well round there.”
Pijper added: “The meeting will give me a good start to the season and I’ve also got some new equipment that I will be trying out, so it’s a useful exercise in this regard.
“I have never been sure if the Ben Fun was a meeting you volunteered for, or you waited to be asked. So this time I rang up the organisers and volunteered.”
Meanwhile, Monarchs’ two new Australian captures, Max Fricke and Sam Masters, are expected to arrive in Scotland within the next two weeks to prepare for their debut in Monarchs colours this year.
Fricke, 17, who was crowned Aussie Under-21 champion a few weeks ago, will be joined by his mum and dad for the first month of the campaign to help settle him in.
Masters will be a busy man, doubling up with Wolverhampton in the Elite League, and also riding for Rybnik in the Polish League.