Panthers rider Ben can’t wait to get back on track

Ben Barker in action for Panthers last season.
Ben Barker in action for Panthers last season.
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The 2019 season starts this Sunday for one Panthers rider . . . and he’s convinced it is going to be a good one.

Reserve racer Ben Barker is the first member of the city side in action as he lines up in the Ben Fund Bonanza at Leicester.

Barker boasts a proud record of having lined up in all nine previous editions of the fund-raising meeting for the Speedway Riders’ Benevolent Fund.

It’s a cause close to the heart of a rider who has had more than his fair share of scrapes during a lengthy career - including when seeing his 2018 campaign ended early by a broken arm and dislocated shoulder.

“I’m the only rider to have done every Ben Fund Bonanza and I’m really proud of that,” said Cornwall-based Barker.

“The Ben Fund supported me this winter while I was recovering from injury and that took a big weight off my shoulders.

“I made a right mess of my arm when I broke it back in September. I had no feeling in it for eight weeks which was pretty worrying, but everything is sorted now.

“To be honest I’ve had a few bad injuries in my time. I broke my back in five places, I’ve broken both my legs, both my collar-bones, my arm, my neck, my wrist and my toes!”

But the 30 year-old is now fully fit and raring to go as part of the Panthers side for the club’s return to the SGB Premiership.

Barker added: “I’m confident about the year ahead. I know I can do the business around Peterborough and I’ve done plenty of laps at all the other tracks too.

“I don’t think I could say there is one track in the Premiership that I don’t enjoy riding at.

“I’ve got two brand new bikes and have bought a really good engine. I’ve not been this well prepared for the last six years.

“I don’t mind admitting I’ve had a few issues in the past, but I’m really looking to have a good year and show everyone what I can really do.

“I’ve been playing football on Saturdays and that’s helped me get into decent shape. I’m feeling good mentally too.”

Barker then has another important date in the diary next Saturday (March 23) when holding his testimonial at his SGB Championship club, Redcar. It’s a four-team tournament with plenty of past Panthers riders involved.