2016…what can we really say other than this has certainly been Danny King’s best season to date. Once again, Danny improved his average across all divisions, he secured a silver medal in the Speedway World Cup but probably what will be most prominent for him this year was that he was crowned the 2016 British Speedway Champion.
At the beginning of the season, I think Danny will agree, things were not quite going to plan. The team couldn’t quite get the set ups and things on track just weren’t clicking. However off track, the King family were waiting very patiently for the arrival of baby number 2 and since his arrival in early May everything seemed to fall into place. With everything ok at home (although slightly less sleep in the household taking place) Danny’s thoughts could finally return to track mode and ever since he has flown!
The 13th of June saw Danny’s spectacular efforts finally pay off with a sensational meeting which saw him crowned the 2016 British Speedway Champion. The meeting took place at the New National Speedway Stadium in Manchester, a change from the previous hosts at Wolverhampton (held there for previous 6 seasons). He was the out and out winner throughout the meeting, being seeded straight to the final by topping the point scores with 13 along with home rider Craig Cook on 12. Joining them in the final were Robert Lambert (finished on 10 points) and Steve Worral (also on 10 points). Danny was able to choose gate positions first and after discussing with his team the best options to go for he selected gate 2 to everyone else dismay. Gate one had been the best gate all evening topping the statistics however Danny and his team had other plans. Speaking about the decision after the meeting he explained that from this position it gave him more options. He knew that Cookie was a fast starter and should he be out gated by him, he would surely be clamped to the inside if he were to go from the inside. From gate two if he didn’t make the best start he could go for the outside line or cut back and try to shoot himself up the inside. Well I think what we can all agree on is that the team made the best decision as Craig Cook shot from the gate and sped round the corner everyone thought it was a done deal. But Danny wasn’t taking that! He catapulted himself around the outside, gaining more speed and accelerated past the surprised Craig Cook down the back straight and from then on he was unstoppable. On an evening where the conditions were not the best due to heavy rain, you would not have noticed as he dug his heels out into the dirt and put on an amazing display that will surely be one of his career highlights to date. With this new title under his belt, this brought with it the opportunity to be the Wild Card in the British Grand Prix the following month.
Both his Coventry and Ipswich teams reaped the benefits of Danny’s win as his confidence soared which in turn saw his points tally improved both home and away. I think it is safe to say that he was turning a lot of heads and there were already calls for Alun Rossiter (Team GB Manager) to include him in the upcoming Monster Speedway World Cup, although Rossiter kept the decisions close to his heart until only 10 days before the meeting took place.
Along came the British Speedway Grand Prix, a meeting that Danny had previously been a reserve for but never quite got the opportunity to race in. It all took place on the 9th July at the Principality Stadium, Cardiff. This meeting would prove to the world Danny’s worth as after a slow start, he very quickly picked up the pace and scored 5 points in his last two races finishing with an incredible ride that had the whole stadium on its feet to win against Greg Hancock (who would go on to win the World Championship title), Bartosz Zmarzlik (who went on to achieve the bronze medal in the World Championship) and Matej Zagar.
Once again, with confidence booming, Danny continued to pile up the points in his British League fixtures although he still found himself left out of his Polish League club (Pila) line up and their fans were beginning to question why. Danny had been out to practice on track as requested but still the call never came through. It soon became apparent to Danny that things were just not going to happen this season in Poland and he decided to have his engines flown home so that he could use them in his British League races.
With the Speedway World Cup Final looming, it was finally revealed that Danny would be included in the teams 1-4 alongside Tai Woffinden, Craig Cook and Robert Lambert with Adam Ellis completing the sides line up at reserve. Danny and Craig Cook took advantage of a team training day on track the week previous and they went into the meeting with high hopes. It was a very rocky start for Danny as he was excluded for touching the tapes in his opening ride. This then meant that he didn’t quite have the set up for his first full ride and he ended with a last place in Heat 6 although not off the pace and showing every effort of trying to pass those ahead of him. With the team not off to the best start with only Woffinden achieving a race win, Alun decided to use a tactical and replaced Danny in his third ride which resulted in a 6 point win for the home side. In his third ride, Danny was finally back to the King we all knew with a fantastic ride only just missing out on the win taking second place against Australia’s Chris Holder. The team were on the way up and soon piled up the points and in his final ride in Heat 19 he put on a stunning display to achieve the nickname the ‘Heat 19 King’ as he shot around the boards to take the win and place Team GB in silver medal territory. On an evening that ended with a silver place medal, Team GB’s highest position in 12 years (Team GB finished 2nd in 2004), the boys could all hold their heads high as they all worked together to bring home some silverware for their country.
As the season continued, Danny continued his consistent form for both Coventry and Ipswich. However things at Coventry were not quite going to plan and as a team the performances were disappointing with meetings being lost at tracks where they thought they had it in the bag. Ipswich on the other hand, after making several team changes, were rocketing themselves towards a play off position with a consistent run of home form and close away fixtures enabling them to pick up points on the road. As Captain to the side, Danny was able to guide and support him team mates – team spirit was at an all time high.
As September arrived it soon became apparent that Coventry were to miss out on a play off place this year, but that didn’t stop Danny from putting in top performances. This did not go unnoticed as he was called up by several clubs (Belle Vue, Lakeside, Kings Lynn) to guest for them when they found themselves with missing riders due to injuries and fixture clashes. It also hadn’t escaped the eyes of TV bosses at Sky Sports, as he was called up to commentate on the Elite League play off fixtures alongside Nigel Pearson. Danny received high praise for his professionalism, knowledge and presentation of the events and we hope this was the beginning of many more opportunities like this in the future.
With Coventry Bees taking an early ending to the season, it left Danny’s Ipswich campaign in the forefront. The team progressed to the semi-finals after a fantastic display against Edinburgh. With the team on a high, they went into their matches up against Somerset with high expectations. Although this was sadly not to be as the team suffered their first home defeat to the Rebels since early June. This saw the end of the Ipswich team and Danny’s season come to a close on 13th October.
Danny has thoroughly enjoyed his season with both Coventry and Ipswich and would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the promotion, staff, team, his sponsors and fans for all of their support throughout what has been undoubtedly his best season (personally) to date, all that is left to do is begin preparations for the 2017 season.