After a long delay due to Covid 19, the 2020 Bennetts British Superbike Championship got off to a dramatic start this weekend (8/9 August) at Donington Park behind closed doors. 

New Zealand rider Damon Rees is taking part in the British National Superstock 1000 Championship, riding for Astro JJR Racing on a BMW S1000RR. 

Taking part in his first official practice sessions of the season on Friday, Damon set a lap time of 1.08.666 which was good enough to be the 12 fastest time of the day. This was just 0.446s off the top time set by Tom Neave. Commenting after his first sessions Damon commented that he was “super happy with the day and looking forward to making more improvements on Saturday”.

Qualifying took place Saturday morning under blue sky’s in perfect conditions, after a frantic qualifying session Damon qualified in 4th position with a lap time of 1.07.990 which was only 0.3s off pole position.

The first race one of the British Superstock 1000 Champion kicked off in ultra hot conditions late Saturday afternoon. The start of the race was chaotic with Danny Kent grabbing the hole-shot, taking the lead into the first corner. The eventual race winner Tom Neave soon found his way through the pack to take the lead where he was able to steadily pull away from the pursuers and eventually win by over 2 seconds. All eyes were on the battle for second position with New Zealand rookie Damion Rees battling with Danny Kent for a number of laps. Rees eventually pulled away from the 2015 Moto 3 World Champion, eventually finishing  1.5 seconds ahead of Kent and just over 2 seconds off the race leader Tom Neave. Speaking after the race, Rees said, “There was a lack of grip for the entire race, but I just held my own and rode solid and it paid off!”

“All eyes were on the battle for second position with New Zealand rookie Damon Rees battling with Danny Kent for a number of laps.”

Already looking forward to race two Rees says “I can’t thank the Astro JJR Team enough for all their hard work, I’m so thankful to be part of such an awesome team! And thank you all for all the support!  Bring on race two” 

The second race of the British Superstock 1000 race took place Sunday afternoon in slightly cooler conditions over 22 laps. After making a good start from his second row grid slot Damon held a solid third position for the opening lap sitting comfortable 0.7 seconds behind the race leader. Going into lap 4 Rees was looking confident, matching their pace and sitting comfortably with the race leaders until the red flag was brought out due to oil on the track at the start of lap five.

The restarted race was to be run over 16 laps. Due to his running position at the end of the original race, Rees was moved up to the front row, starting the restart in third position. Once again Reese managed a strong get away when the lights went out moving up to second position into turn one and ending the opening lap in third 0.176 seconds off the lead before another red flag brought a stop to the race.

The race would be rescheduled to be run later in the day in cooler conditions over 14 laps. Starting on the front row in third position it was an even getaway this time with Rees slotting into second position behind Tim Neave on the opening lap. Rees would hold second position until lap three. By lap six there was a seven way battle for the lead with Rees sitting comfortable in sixth position, looking to make some moves. On lap seven Rees made his moves passing the riders in front of him and moving from sixth to fourth position, 1 second off the lead. Coming into the final two laps of the race and sitting 0.7 seconds from the lead Rees had another podium in his sights. On the penultimate lap Rees made his move for third passing Danny Kent, Kent would fall on the last lap trying to keep up and repass Rees. The eventual race winner was Chrissy Rouse followed by Billy McConnell in second and Damon Rees in third position only 1.129 off the win.  

Commenting after the race Rees said, “It’s been an absolute stellar start to the season and has made the delayed start all worth it!”      

“Leaving Donington Park after Round One, Rees is the joint championship leader on 36pts.”

Commenting on his performance, Rees said, “I’m absolutely itching to roll in to Round 2 at Snetterton in two weeks time.” Continuing, Rees said, “Thank you for all the messages and comments, I have read and appreciate every single one of them, a massive shout-out also goes to Carl Cox Motorsport, supported Astro JJR Racing Team for all their hard work” 

The second round of the British Superstock 1000 Championship will take place at Snetterton over the weekend of 22nd and 23rd August. Live timing and coverage can be found on the BSB Web Site.

Words: Michael Wincott Pics: Facebook