Rees fam­ily billed

Taupo & Turangi Weekender - - News - Andy McGechan

It was text­book stuff from the Rees fam­ily last Sun­day as fa­ther Tony and his el­dest son Mitch wrapped up the in­au­gu­ral Honda Three­Hour En­durance Race at Taupo¯’s Bruce McLaren Mo­tor­sport Park.

The re­sult was per­haps highly ap­pro­pri­ate too, be­cause the motorcycling week­end had been billed as “Ride with Rees — a week­end with Tony Rees,” with the tagline “cel­e­brat­ing a New Zealand cham­pion”.

It was an ac­tion-packed two days of ac­tiv­ity at the pop­u­lar Taupo¯ road-rac­ing fa­cil­ity.

Satur­day was the sec­ond of five Honda Ride Days this sea­son and was an op­por­tu­nity to ride with and learn from multi-time na­tional su­per­bike cham­pion Tony Rees, 2018 na­tional su­per­bike No 2 Mitch Rees and also the younger sib­ling, 2017 na­tional 600cc su­pers­port cham­pion Da­mon Rees.

Ac­tiv­i­ties on Satur­day were a per­fect lead-in to the rac­ing proper on Sun­day — a two-hour en­durance race for un­der-600cc bikes and a three-hour en­durance race for bikes over 600cc — and also in­cluded an en­ter­tain­ing drinks and din­ner evening with Tony Rees and fel­low su­per­bike le­gend Aaron Slight on Satur­day night.

How­ever, the fol­low­ing morn­ing it all be­came a lit­tle more se­ri­ous, with rid­ers keen to use the sep­a­rate en­durance races as warm­ing up for the up­com­ing road-race sea­son.

Lo­cal favourite Scott Moir was the fastest off the start line af­ter the shot­gun blast sig­nalled the start to Sun­day’s premier three­hour race, but 25-year-old Whakata¯ne man Mitch Rees wasted no time, hunt­ing down the Taupo¯ man and snatch­ing the lead near the end of the first of what would even­tu­ally be­come a 104-lap af­fair.

The Moir and Daniel Met­tam (Glen Eden) rider com­bi­na­tion ended up slip­ping to third po­si­tion at the 90-minute (half-race) dis­tance and even­tu­ally set­tled for fourth over­all at the che­quered flag.

Mean­while, the Sloan Frost (Welling­ton) and Bailie Per­ri­ton (As­bur­ton) pair­ing fought their way through to claim the run­ners-up spot, while 23-year-old Da­mon Rees, co-rid­ing with Manukau’s Toby Sum­mers, earned third step on the podium.

All lead­ing rid­ers were on 1000cc bikes, apart from Sum­mers, who raced a 600cc ma­chine.

Hamil­ton’s Jor­dan Bur­ley and Grey­mouth’s Ashton Hughes, both rid­ing 675cc bikes, claimed fifth over­all, fin­ish­ing two laps be­hind the Moir/Met­tam combo.

“My team-mate Mitch (Rees) pro­duced faster lap times than me and Sloan Frost showed a bit of pace too, peg­ging me back near the end of the race, but also I was con­serv­ing my tyres at that stage and not want­ing to take any risks,” said Tony Rees.

“I didn’t want to throw away all the good work and just did what was needed to win it. This week­end was my first time rac­ing since I crashed and in­jured my­self at Man­feild last De­cem­ber, so I wasn’t ex­actly race fit any­way,” said the 50-yearold from Whakata¯ne.

“The week­end was not re­ally about win­ning this race. For me, it was just im­por­tant to see peo­ple en­joy­ing them­selves and the fan­tas­tic rac­ing was a bonus.”

Co-win­ners of the ear­lier two-hour, un­der-600cc race were Whanga­mata¯’s Ben Rosendaal and Auck­land’s Mat Dun­lop, nearly a minute ahead of ri­val team Michael Patch­ett (Auck­land) and Alex But­son (Kawakawa).

“It was a good turn-out for the ride day on Satur­day. I think the suc­cess of the week­end means there will likely be a few more en­tries in the en­durance races next year too,” said Tony.

Af­ter the week­end at Taupo¯, the Honda Track Days con­tinue with three sep­a­rate events at Hamp­ton Downs on De­cem­ber 1, Fe­bru­ary 23 and April 27.

Photo / Andy McGechan, Bike­sportNZ.com

Whakatane’s Mitch Rees lead­ing the way at Taupo¯’s Bruce McLaren Mo­tor­sport Park on Sun­day.

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