Fans See Red at Superbike Nationals

Fans See Red at Superbike Nationals

RIGHT: Whakatane's Tony Rees (Honda CBR1000RR), the new points leader in the Superbike class after intense racing at Teretonga at the weekend. Photo by Andy McGechan,

JANUARY 16, 2017: Superbike race fans have been seeing red this season, quite a bit of it in fact, and there’s plenty more to come.

Whakatane’s multi-time former national road-racing champion Tony Rees took his Honda CBR1000RR to win the three-round pre-nationals series in the formula one/superbike class in late December, while his youngest son Damon Rees took his Honda CBR600RR to celebrate his first major success in winning the 600cc F2/Supersport class in the same Suzuki-sponsored series.

Perhaps that was an omen of things to come because Tony Rees now leads the Superbike class after the second of four rounds of the New Zealand Superbike Championships in Invercargill at the weekend and rising young star Damon Rees is locked in a tight battle for top honours in the 600cc class as well.

This father and son double act will be looking to push on with their winning momentum when the second half of the season gets underway in Taupo next month and then stay out of trouble so that they might collect national titles at the fourth and final round at Hampton Downs, near Meremere, a week later.

Tony Rees started his weekend in Invercargill second in the championship standing, 10 points behind defending national superbike champion Sloan Frost, but two race wins and then a runner-up finish behind fellow Honda rider Alastair Hoogenboezem propelled Rees past Wellington’s Frost and into the series lead.

Frost had a disastrous weekend, crashing out of one race, and Rees now leads the class, 18 points ahead of Christchurch’s Hoogenboezem, with Frost slipping back to third in the standings.

Rees took the championship lead after winning the first two superbike races of the weekend, but could not quite make it a hat-trick of wins as Hoogenboezem came on strong to celebrate his breakthrough first victory of the series, winning the third superbike race on Sunday and thrusting himself also into championship contention.

What is perhaps most remarkable is that new championship leader Rees had not originally intended to contest the nationals this year.

“I simply wanted to be at the nationals to support my boys (21-year-old Damon and 23-year-old Mitch) and I wasn’t going to race at all. But I had a change of mind when my sons offered to relieve me of mechanic's duties if I would race alongside them. So here I am and it’s turning out to be a great season for us all.”

Mitch Rees (Honda CBR1000RR) is currently running sixth overall in the same superbike class as his father.

Meanwhile, sharing the track with the Superbike riders, Invercargill Honda rider Jeremy Holmes is still the runaway leader in the battle-within-a-battle for 1000cc Superstock class honours, now a massive 96 points ahead of his nearest challenger, Te Kauwhata's Chris Defiori.

Damon Rees had led the 600cc supersport class after the opening round of the nationals in Christchurch a week earlier and he followed that up by setting a scorching time to top qualifying at Teretonga.

But a crash and subsequent non-finish in his first race wiped out his points lead.

Damon Rees fought back in the next two outings, but he still finished the weekend 26.5 points behind new class leader Shane Richardson, of Wainuiomata.

But there’s no reason to be waving the white flag just yet – with five points the difference between a win and a runner-up finish, and still six 600cc class races left in the series (three more races at each of the remaining two rounds), so that 26.5-point gap could quickly be overcome.

Credit: Words and photo by Andy McGechan,