Words: Hayley Bromley
Images: Ian Charles
Belle Vue’s Craig Cook was crowned the 2017 British Champion on emotional night at the National Speedway Stadium where he roared to top of the podium in front of his home crowd.
On top of the honour of his maiden national title, the Rentruck Aces’ skipper has also earned the right to wear the No.16 race jacket in the upcoming British Speedway Grand Prix in Cardiff.
The 30-year old was without doubt the crowd favourite and proved it by breezing through his qualifying heats, dropping just one point all night and securing his place in the grand final.
The venue exploded into a cheering frenzy as finalists Cook, Steve Worrall, Rory Schelin and Ben Barker popped out of the gate with the Belle Vue duo leading all the way from start to finish.
An emotional Cook said: “I can’t express the feeling I feel right now, but I want more of it! Things are going so well for me at the moment, with this and the GP Challenge in August. It’s fantastic.
“I’m just loving life, enjoying my speedway and living the dream. I can’t thank the fans enough for all of their phenomenal support, not just tonight but throughout the whole year. They’re amazing.
“I’m an emotional guy and I’m just so happy to know that I can make everybody so proud. But there’s still work to do. I’m working hard and the thing I want most is to succeed in speedway.
“The world championship is the ultimate goal but to be British Champion and win the title on my home track is, I think, just as meaningful, if not more so. I’m so happy and I can’t wait for Cardiff!”
Placing second on the podium behind his skipper was Belle Vue No.2 Steve Worrall, who was delighted with his rostrum finish after coming so painfully close in the 2016 national championship.
Worrall said: “Starting off the meeting I didn’t think it would go as well as it did. I had a little slip up in one of my heats which I thought might cost me later on, but thankfully it didn’t turn out that way.
“It’s interesting actually because before Monday I’d had to sit out of a few meetings with a wrist injury, which turned out to be a broken scaphoid but it honestly didn’t affect me, which was a plus!
“It’s fantastic to make the podium, especially on my home track. In my opinion, there’s no other track in Britain where this meeting should be held. It’s the perfect venue for such a big event.”
Ex-Belle Vue rider, Rory Schlein, was the man to claim third on a night where the Belle Vue Aces reigned supreme at home, after Cook’s equally impressive team mate followed him home.
The newly crowned British Champion Craig Cook next leads his team into battle on Friday June 23, against top flight newcomers Rye House. Tickets are available now at www.bellevueaces.co.
RESULT – 2017 INTEGRO BRITISH FINAL – BELLE VUE – MONDAY JUNE 19
QUALIFYING SCORERS: Craig Cook 14, Steve Worrall 11, Ben Barker 11, Rory Schlein 10, Danny King 10, Scott Nicholls 10, Richie Worrall 9, Chris Harris 9, Richard Lawson 9, Paul Starke 6, Lewis Kerr 5, Lewis Rose 5, Kyle Howarth 4, Stuart Robson 4, Jason Garrity 3, Carl Wilkinson 0, Jack Smith (res) 0, Andy Mellish (res) 0
SEMI-FINAL: Barker, Schlein, Nicholls, King; GRAND FINAL: Cook, S.Worrall, Schlein, Barker.