GB rivals to square off as Ipswich Witches host Edinburgh Monarchs
- Credit: Archant
One was dropped for the other, so the shale will fly when Ben Barker and Craig Cook square off at Foxhall tonight.
Ipswich need to win by seven points or more, in Suffolk, in order to reach the League Cup final – following a first leg defeat to the Edinburgh Monarchs – but that has almost become a sub-plot to the intriguing rivalry between two of speedway’s hottest prospects.
Witches’ star man Barker benefited from Great Britain coach Neil Middleditch’s decision to drop the Monarchs’ Cook for the crucial Speedway World Cup Race-Off, held in Prague, last Thursday.
Neither lived up to their potential for Great Britain, with Cook (four points) faring slightly better than Barker (three), during the opening round of the event.
Great Britain failed to make the World Cup final, finishing in last place in the Race-Off, and that will have done little to temper Cook’s mood – the Whitehaven-born racer describing Barker’s inclusion as a “joke” and labelling the in-form Witches’ rider as “useless” in newspaper reports prior to the 25-year-old’s big moment in the Czech Republic.
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The duo now turn their attentions to domestic matters and the Witches will hope a big crowd can spur them to victory on a track where they have suffered just one defeat this season. The winners face Newcastle Diamonds in the final.
Promoter Chris Louis said: “It should be a really good meeting, especially as we need to win by seven or more, which is quite a target.”
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He added: “I would imagine Ben (Barker), if he is anything like I was when I was riding, will be even more determined to beat this bloke after what’s been said.
“They will meet in heat one and I expect it to be very competitive between the two, but hopefully not too competitive.”
Barker’s season average is 9.61 with Cook, who ironically guested for Ipswich in their League Cup quarter-final win against Plymouth, averaging 10.01.