Workington are British Speedway's newest outfit and club promoters Andrew Bain and Steve Lawson should be applauded for the hard work that has taken place to create the impressive Northside Arena. Their story is already a huge success.
It's always a big challenge for any new club to build a competitive side, as they are playing catch up with fewer links to available riders and it takes time to build an asset base.
Finding good heat leaders is always the first step - without them you can't win races, and if you don't win races you don't win meetings! So the capture of ex-GP riders Craig Cook and Troy Batchelor is a huge coup for the Cumbrian side.
Cook has had his issues in the past, but if anywhere presents the perfect opportunity to get his career back on track then his local club Workington is surely a perfect match! A fit and focussed Cook is capable of being the Cab Direct Championship's top rider and he has proved that in the past.
Batchelor's career seems to have regressed in recent years, but although he is not the GP rider he once was he is still a very capable heat leader - alongside Cook, he gives the Comets a top 2 that have the potential to beat anyone. Considering this the Comets' first season at this level since their re-birth, they could have done much worse!
Assets are important to any club in British Speedway, so it seems a wise move that the Workington promotion have made to bring 3 new riders to the club from overseas; Tate Zischke, Antti Vuolas and Celina Liebmann.
18-year-old Aussie Zischke is a huge coup for the Comets - he has been under the wing of Darcy Ward and is highly regarded as the next 'big thing' to come from Australia. There were rumours that he would have lined up for a club on the south coast last year had he not picked up a serious injury before the season, but his delay in arriving on these shores could prove highly fortunate for the Cumbrian side.
Vuolas is another rider that has massive potential. The 24-year-old Finn raced for Lublin in last year's Polish U24 Ekstraliga and finished the season with an average of over 10 points per meeting, only bettered by young Pole Kacper Pludra. Vuolas brought himself to the world's attention when racing for Finland in last year's Speedway World Cup, scoring 6 points and taking the scalps of Jason Doyle and Nick Pedersen along the way.
Liebmann becomes the first female rider in history to race professionally in a British Speedway league. She has beaten some good riders in her career so far, but it's difficult to gauge how she will fare in her first season racing in the Cab Direct Championship. One thing is for sure though - her arrival is an exciting and historic moment for British Speedway, and the extensive press coverage surrounding her signing is hugely positive for both Workington and the sport.
Lining up at reserve is a familiar face in young Brit Sam McGurk, who returns from the Comets NDL side. McGurk was the first signing announced for the 2024 season and he made good progress in British Speedway's third-tier in 2023, finishing with an average of just over 6 points. His first year at Championship level will be a big step up, but he is a quick rider that is capable of beating many of the young reserves he will line up against this season.
Workington have several unknown quantities in their side, so its difficult to see them challenging for honours in 2024. However, the Comets promotion had to take a few risks in their first season at Championship level and their team is an exciting one that is full of potential. It may be a year too early for silverware, but there is a lot to look forward to as a Workington fan.
COMETS LINE UP FOR 2024: