Ipswich Witches owner Chris Louis pays tribute to Danny Ayres after sudden death
PUBLISHED: 06:30 03 February 2020 | UPDATED: 07:42 03 February 2020
Ipswich Witches owner Chris Louis has paid a heartfelt tribute to Suffolk speedway star Danny Ayres, who was set to race for the Witches in 2020.
Ayres died suddenly on Saturday, aged 33.
The Bury St Edmunds-born racer had put pen to paper for the Suffolk side to ride in the Premiership this summer.
"I can honestly say I had never been looking forward to working with a rider, as much as I was looking forward to working with Danny this year," Louis said.
"We've brought over some fine riders in recent years, Cameron Heeps, Gino Manzares, Rohan Tungate and it's always exciting working with new riders for the first time.
"But Danny was someone I was more excited about than most.
"His infectious nature, his enthusiasm.
"I remember at Belle Vue last season in the British Final, other riders were desperate for Danny to win races. He was unbelievable that night. He was so popular.
"Danny was a one-off. If the sport had 100 more Danny Ayres, it would be in a far better place.
"He was an entertainer pure and simple and from a selfish point of view I'm sad I won't be working with him this year. As I said, it was something I was so looking forward to.
"I wish to extend my condolences to Danny's family and many friends."
Ayres was a latecomer to the sport and didn't start racing speedway until 2014.
He came to many people's attention at last year's British Final after a thrilling performance at Belle Vue - the one Louis refers to.
Ayres rode for Mildenhall Fen Tigers in the National League where he was No.1.
He soon became a firm fans' favourite and the outpouring of tributes from so many in the sport, shows that.
Speaking after he signed for the Witches for this year, Ayres had said: "This is a massive year for me and being part of the Ipswich team can help take my career to the next level.
"I'm a racer and a showman and I love what I do.
"If I can bring smiles to people's faces riding a bike and put just one extra person on a seat to come watch me, that's my job done."