By Henry Chard

The Ipswich ‘Tru Plant’ Witches have signed former British champion Craig Cook who replaces Cameron Heeps in the line-up.

Last week proved to be a damaging one for the club as they suffered two defeats in the Premiership and three riders picked up bad injuries.

Cook replaces Ipswich regular Heeps who suffered a shoulder separation after a heat 15 fall last Thursday which is likely to keep him out for at least three weeks.

Paul Starke will also be joining the club, replacing Jordan Stewart who underwent surgery last Friday after suffering a broken collarbone, dislocated shoulder and broken ribs in a crash at Birmingham last Wednesday. The Australian is estimated to miss at least six weeks of racing.

Promoter Chris Louis explained why the club have made the changes as they look to get the season back on track after a difficult week.

“We have got to this point purely because of injuries and circumstances,” said Louis. “It was one of the worst weeks that I can remember in Ipswich Speedway’s history. A massive loss on Monday at Wolverhampton, losing Jason (Crump) and then hearing the news on Wednesday that Jordan had a bad crash at Birmingham suffering multiple injuries. Then going into Thursday at Ipswich with a skeleton team and losing at home to local rivals King’s Lynn which is never an easy pill to swallow and then losing Cam to injury in the last heat.

“I could never have anticipated losing three riders in a week and it has forced our hand. This season is condensed, it is coming thick and fast and it is always going to be difficult getting suitable guests and when you are three riders down your hand is forced, you have to make changes and you have to act fast. The changes that we’ve made are without doubt the best thing we could do, and we have got to regroup.”

Cook was recently released by King’s Lynn after completing just two fixtures, but Louis is confident that the former Grand Prix rider will find his best form at the top level in Ipswich colours.

“I spoke at length to Craig about what happened at King’s Lynn and he absolutely convinced me that he just had a bad couple of meetings. Like a lot of riders, he had an enforced long break and he has got to get his head around that. He didn’t settle down immediately but since we have been talking to him, we can see his results at Glasgow, they have been impeccable, and he convinced me that he is ready to go and perform at every level. I didn’t waste a second in getting the move done.”

The promoter admitted that replacing Ipswich asset Heeps had been a tough decision but said it was a move that had to made after he picked up a shoulder separation injury last week.

“Cam is the biggest victim in terms of circumstance. He wasn’t doing a bad job, he was having a few issues working things out after the long break and getting himself settled with engines and stuff but again it was another injury that we just couldn’t allow time to go by without making changes.”

We wish Cameron all the best in his recovery and look forward to seeing him back in action again soon.

For more reaction on the signing of Starke, click here.