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Drew Kemp eager to do former Mildenhall Fen Tigers team-mate Danny Ayres proud with Ipswich Witches

Former Mildenhall Fen Tigers star Drew Kemp is confident he can do Danny Ayres proud when slipping into the Ipswich Witches race jacket designated for his old team-mate after signing for the Premiership outfit, writes Graham Clark.

Last year’s British Under-19 champion will combine his riding duties in the Championship with the Eastbourne Eagles with the Witches after being drafted into one of the two reserve berths following the sudden death of Ayres earlier this month.

Although Kemp, who rode alongside Ayres in the National League for the Fen Tigers in the 2018, admits he will be difficult to replace, he believes he is the right man for the job.

Danny Ayres (red helmet) and Drew Kemp (blue) in action for the Mildenhall Fen Tigers
Danny Ayres (red helmet) and Drew Kemp (blue) in action for the Mildenhall Fen Tigers

“It is going to be difficult to replace someone like Danny Ayres and his reputation as being the entertainer,”said the 17-year-old.

“Although the circumstances of replacing Danny are not nice. it’s nice that someone like me – who Danny knew well having spent a lot of time with together in 2018 – can come in and try and pick up where he left off

“Danny was doing so well for Scunthorpe and Mildenhall at the end of last year until he broke his leg so hopefully I can crack in with what he was doing.

“Obviously I want to progress into the main body of the team at Ipswich but really this year I just want to try and get all the experience I can and score as many points as I can.

While Kemp, who also claimed the National League pairs for the Kent Kings last year alongside Anders Rowe, may be embarking in his maiden season in speedway’s top flight, he insists he will feel the pressure to make an immediate impact given his Suffolk connections.

“There is always going to be pressure on me as I’m the local boy in the team,” said Kemp.

“Where most of that pressure comes from is myself though as speaking to Chris Louis (promoter) and team manager Richie Hawkins there is no pressure on me from them.

“One thing I didn’t do last year was learn from where I was going wrong during bad meetings and I just kept going and that is what I won’t do this year.

“I just want to go out there have fun and enjoy my racing. It was really tough at times but if I go into this year open minded and learn from the meetings that I’m not so good I’m sure I can move on and improve as a rider.”

Having recently returned from riding in Australia over the winter, Kemp hopes he can learn plenty from one of the most notable riders to have come out of the country, that of three times world champion Jason Crump, who has come out of retirement to sign for the Witches.

“I think signing Jason Crump on the same day took most of the pressure and limelight off my signature which was a good thing,” he said.

“I hope to learn a lot from him and there is no reason why I won’t.”

“He is a three times world champion and he has all the experience and knowledge that he can pass on to me which will benefit me not only this year but for years to come.”