Workington Comets will take to the track in 2019 – but possibly for one day only.

Ben Barker, so often the scourge of the Comets as a visiting rider in recent years, has invited last season’s triple champions across the Pennines to take part in a four-team tournament as part of his testimonial meeting at Redcar on Saturday, March 23rd.

The Teessiders skipper Barker was, along with most of the speedway world, shocked when the Comets announced last week that finances dictated they would not be able to defend their Championship, Knock-out Cup and Championship Shield crowns during the forthcoming season.

And although manager Tony Jackson has been quick to point out his determination to return the sport to Derwent Park in 2020, he was resigned to not seeing then race again until then.

Barker, 30, commented: “It’s such a terrible shame that Workington won’t be there to defend their titles this year and a tragedy for speedway as Derwent Park is a great track and one of my favourites.

“The idea of giving their fans at least one more chance to cheer them on in 2019 came to me and I’m obviously hopeful that as many Comets’ supporters as possible will take the opportunity to come across on the day.”

The meeting is likely to have an early afternoon start, to make it easier for travelling supporters to get there and home again.

Redcar’s local rivals Newcastle and a team representing the now defunct Middlesbrough Bears will make up the meeting with 2017 Australian Champion Sam Masters and former British Champion Danny King set to bolster one or more of the sides.

Jackson was delighted to assist the Redcar captain’s big day and enthused: “I’ll certainly go across and manage the team - if Workington are there, I’ll be there!

“I can’t see a problem in us taking part or any reason why Steve Worrall, Kyle Bickley, Bradley Wilson-Dean and Simon Lambert (all originally signed to represent the Comets in 2019) wouldn’t want to ride and we could also call on former Workington riders with maybe Ty Proctor, who has moved to Sheffield but is also an ex-Redcar rider, coming along.”

Jackson hinted that it might not be Workington’s only appearance this season, adding: “I wouldn’t be surprised if someone like Glasgow had a spare Sunday in the summer and wanted to run against a Workington side too, in the hope that some of our fans would make the journey up.

“In the meantime we are working hard to ensure that we are back racing again next season, especially as it represents the 50th anniversary of when the Comets first opened in 1970.”