Ouch! Craig Cooks comes a cropper in Heat 20. Picture: JEFF DAVIES
Sluggish machinery hasn’t aided Cook’s cause this term, but joining forces with multi-time Cardiff and World Championshipwinning engine tuner Peter Johns helped him spark his SGP season into life.
Cook said: “I haven’t had any confidence in my equipment and I have made no secret of it.
“I went back to Johnsy and got a new motor for last weekend. I loved it. It was fantastic from the start and very nice to ride.
“A lot of engine tuners make good, fast engines, but Peter’s are works of art. So much craftsmanship and engineering goes into them. He is a quality engineer and you don’t just lose it. A few people have jumped ship, but his motors have worked better for me and the proof was in the pudding.”
Cook, who won the SGP qualifier at Abensberg in May, is also tapping into German engineer Bert van Essen’s local knowledge ahead of Saturday’s GP Challenge in Landshut, where the top three guarantee places in SGP 2019.
“He built me an engine for Germany last time,” Cook said. “We’re doing something a little different so it will be better from the start.
“He’s known for longtrack engines, but he is a very good machinist and engineer. I’m also working with him.
“I’ll take my good engine from Cardiff – one I made some points on – and use the one from Bert. We’ll see how we go then.”
Cook escaped his heavy crash largely unscathed, although it left him down on power for the semis.
“My backside is now as numb as my head!” he joked. “It was not ideal. It wasn’t me struggling in the last one. We broke the other bike in practice. I dropped the clutch and it was broken. So I didn’t have a bike for the semi unfortunately. It is what it is.”
Report: PAUL BURBIDGE
ARDIFF wild card Robert Lambert insisted “I can’t put my head down over just one meeting” after refereeing howlers and mechanical misfortune handed him a Speedway Grand Prix baptism of fire on Saturday.
Rob’s wild day C
turned left, but everyone could see Tai went up to the right and pushed wide. I had to put my foot down and then he took my front wheel with his back wheel. What do you do? The referee excluded me. I think all four should have been back.
of Nations silver medallist and a British senior and junior champion this year. But arguably the biggest night of his season comes this Saturday, when he lines up at the GP Challenge in Landshut.
Lambert was tipped as a potential semi-finalist as he headed to the Welsh capital in the form of his life. But even the world’s most elite riders couldn’t have overcome what lay in store as he recorded just one point.
Heat 2 saw him pull up at the start line after his chain dropped off. With insufficient time to get a replacement bike to the tapes, he was excluded under the twominute time allowance.
“And with regards to the last one, I’d never do anything like that, especially to Jason. I race with him every week in Sweden and we’re good buddies. I knew I was past him and I’m sure he just caught my back wheel and that sent him skew-whiff. He hit the ruts Craig found.”
Lambert is already a Speedway
The top three riders in Germany are guaranteed SGP qualification for 2019 and Lambert’s attentions have already switched to that.
He said: “It’s a chance to get into the whole series and it’s going to be another big meeting for me. I’m going to be focused big-time on that.”
Report: PAUL BURBIDGE
He was then bizarrely booted out of Heat 5 by bungling referee Christian Froschauer, when he was brought down by Tai Woffinden on the way into a tight turn one. All four back would have been the correct call.
Robert Lambert, left, and Tai Woffinden at Cardiff. Picture: JEFF DAVIES
Lambert also lost two points in Heat 20, when he was incorrectly blamed for the crash which saw Jason Doyle dramatically fly over the high side of his machine, leaving him briefly knocked out on the track.
The resilient King’s Lynn rightly refused to get disheartened, although he said: “It was very frustrating.
“I can’t put my head down over just one meeting. I did my best and felt pretty hard-done-by by the referee. It’s always hard to come back into the middle of the meeting when so many races had already gone and the track had changed.
“I had good speed in the last two races and in the last race I passed Jason. I had plenty of speed and my bike was more on the pace. It was obviously difficult to come back after basically sitting a couple of heats out.”
Looking back on his moments of misfortune, Lambert explained: “The thread went on the chain guard in my first one. The guard moved over because there was more pressure on the top and then it pulled the split link off and my chain dropped off. I couldn’t do anything about that and there was no time on the clock to get the second bike out.
“In the next race, apparently I
ETER Ljung will be the wild card for the next Grand Prix when the series enters its second-half with round six of 10 in Malilla next month.
Ljung will wear the No.16 race jacket at the G&B Arena where he last appeared in the SGP series, scoring four points as a wild card in 2016.
Track reserves for the meeting on August 11 will be Oliver Berntzon and Joel Kling, whilst Britain’s Craig Ackroyd will be the referee.
Not there yet
BRIT hero Tai Woffinden blasted “it’s only half-time” despite opening up a 20-point lead in the World Championship.
The Scunthorpe-born star finished runner-up in the British Grand Prix in Cardiff on Saturday night behind superfast Pole Bartosz Zmarzlik.
Woffy, 27, now leads the standings on 81 points with his nearest rival ex-Wolves team-mate Fredrik Lindgren back on 61 after a tough night at the Principality Stadium.
He said: “I know the media will hype it up that it’s my title now but it doesn’t work like that in speedway.
“If Manchester United are 6-0 up at half time then yes, they are not going to lose. But this sport is different, everything can change in a blink of an eye. It’s only half-time in this series, five rounds done, five to go. So nothing to get excited about just yet.
“Of course I’m happy that I’m 20 points ahead. I always say that every Grand Prix is just a stepping stone towards the goal of a third world title.
“For me it’s always the big picture. Get through to the semis, then the final in every GP. To win the final is a bonus.
“So Cardiff was undoubtedly a success, job done. I walk away from Cardiff very satisfied with what I’ve managed to achieve.
“Listen, I would love to have won for the fans. The support is just incredible, perhaps even overwhelming. I even had to take time out before the meeting just to focus because the amount of attention was amazing.
“I’m not moaning, I am always surprised about the reaction I get from the fans. Cardiff is it. It’s always very special but that’s because of the fans. They make it so special every single year.”
Woffinden scored 11 qualifying points in Cardiff, three wins punctuated with two bizarre third places. One of those came with an ignition fault on his bike and then what appeared an unsatisfactory start.
Ironically those incidents came back to haunt him. With Zmarzlik scoring 13 in the qualifiers, that eventually gave him first gate pick for the final that ultimately was crucial.
Woffinden added: “We now go to Malilla in Sweden on August 21 which is a track I love. The plan will be exactly the same again. Just get to the final and the ultimate goal gets closer as the GP rounds run out.
“But special mention for the British fans at Cardiff, they were awesome and I will never forget those moments in my career.”
Report: PHIL LANNING
July 28, 2018 speedway star 3