Tributes pour in for Suffolk speedway star Danny Ayres after sudden death
PUBLISHED: 07:41 02 February 2020 | UPDATED: 12:54 02 February 2020
© Copyright Stephen Waller
Speedway is in shock after Suffolk star Danny Ayres, who was set to race for Ipswich Witches in 2020, died suddenly.
Tributes poured in overnight, after the news was announced on his official Facebook page on Saturday evening.
It read: "We have some awful news to bring you. There's is no easy way to report this. Danny has passed away.
"His passing is tragic, extremely sad and very untimely. To say we are shocked and devastated is an understatement. Our thoughts and condolences are with Danny's family."
The 33-year-old, who was born in Bury St Edmunds and who rode for Mildenhall Fen Tigers was hugely popular with speedway fans throughout the country for his all action style.
Tributes from fellow racers such as Scott Nicholls and Danny King have spoken of Danny's character and how much they will miss his presence on the track, whilst clubs such as the Glasgow Tigers and Sheffield Speedway have paid respect to the fan favourite.
Ipswich Witches Star Danny King wrote on Twitter: "Such sad news about Danny Ayres. He was a great bloke who I always enjoyed spending time with. He was a real character who was great for the sport. My thoughts go out to his family and friends. RIP Danny boy."
Mildenhall Speedway said in a statement: "Danny will always be a Fen Tigers legend and has touched many of our hearts with his personality and racing, he never gave us less than 100% and we will all miss him terribly. His performances during his time at Mildenhall will live with us all as will the team man he was, always there for his younger team mates and always positive about the club he represented with such pride.
"We have also spoken this morning about running a meeting later this season in Danny's memory and in support of his partner Jodie and their children."
Fen Tigers co-owner Phil Kirk said: "This is devastating news for all involved with Mildenhall Speedway. Danny was loved by fans and management alike and was a true legend of this club. The connection between him and the fans was something very special and his total commitment to his local club could never be questioned.
On a personal note it's very hard to take in, I have lost a mate and will miss our chats and his stories on our track walks, speedway was a much better place with Danny around and we all send our love and condolences to his partner Jodie and their daughters Lilou & Anaiya, Danny's son Kai, his father David and all the rest of his family and friends at this most difficult of times."
Mildenhall Speedway has decided it would not be appropriate for the club to run the Meet the Riders evening next Saturday and have cancelled the evening until a later date.
Rob Godfrey, Chairman of the British Speedway Promoters' Association, became aware of the news a short time before it was announced.
He said: "It's tough to take in, it's hard to accept and it's left us distraught.
"I can't begin to imagine what Danny's family are going through at this time.
"He was everything good about the sport. He was an entertainer, had time for every fan, never walked away from a photograph or autograph and I was so looking forward to having him at Scunthorpe this year, as was Chris Louis at Ipswich."
In a statement on the official British Speedway website it said: "We are devastated to learn of the passing of British rider Danny Ayres.
"Danny has always been an entertainer and his loss will be felt throughout the sport in Great Britain.
"He has been preparing for the forthcoming season with Premiership Ipswich and Scunthorpe in the Championship.
"Our thoughts are with Danny's family at this most difficult of times."
Ayres came to many people's attention at the 2019 British Final after a thrilling performance at Belle Vue.
He was a latecomer to the sport starting his speedway career in 2014. But he soon became a firm fans' favourite.
Having already ridden for Mildenhall in the National League, he was set to begin an exciting passage of his career with the Witches this summer in the Premiership.
After putting pen to paper for Ipswich at the start of the year, he admitted joining the Witches had been 'top of his wishlist'.