Bay rider continues momentum

Whakatane's Damon Rees (Honda CBR600RR), continuing on his winning ways. Photo: Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com.

It's been a hot summer for Bay of Plenty's Damon Rees, and it's only just getting started.

Fresh from winning the 600cc class at the annual pre-nationals Suzuki Series, the 21-year-old Honda ace from Whakatane has now taken another scalp, this time winning his class at the opening round of the New Zealand Superbike Championships in Christchurch last weekend.

He also clinched the 600cc New Zealand Grand Prix title and shattered the 600cc lap record at the event.

It was also three firsts on the same weekend for the young rising star – the first time he'd won a nationals race, the first time he'd won a GP title, and the first time he'd won at this track.

Rees ended his weekend six points clear of arch rival Shane Richardson, a brilliant platform on which to build his campaign as the riders head to round two at Teretonga, near Invercargill, in just a week's time.

Rees qualified his Honda CBR600RR on pole at the Canterbury circuit, formerly known as Ruapuna, circulating in an impressive time of one minute 31.6 seconds, a time that would have been good enough to qualify him sixth fastest in the 1000cc superbike class.

However, he was forced to accept runner-up finish as his bike mysteriously lost power during the first of the weekend's three 600cc races, although he still crossed the line just 4.5 seconds behind Wainuiomata man Richardson.

But it was all Rees the following day where he roared off to a pair of convincing victories – winning by margins of 5.7 and seven seconds respectively – the final race a gruelling 20-lapper and doubly significant because it was also recognised as the one-off GP title race.

He also set a new 600cc lap record for the track on Sunday, stopping the clock at one minute 31.09 seconds.

"It's definitely a good start to my season," he says. "We've done a lot of hard work in the build-up to this season and now it's paying off.

"I managed to get pole at Teretonga last season, so I think I've got a good chance of winning there next weekend too."

After the Teretonga round, the riders head north for round three at Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park, Taupo, on February 25-26, and the finale at Hampton Downs, near Meremere, on March 4-5.



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Beauty after the storm. Photo: Tracy Hardy. Send us your photos from around the Bay of Plenty. photos@thesun.co.nz