Not since Whakatane’s Tony Rees in the year 2000 has a Kiwi rider won an event in the Australian Superbike Championships. And the latest man to do it is none other than Rees’ youngest son, Damon Rees.
The 23-year-old Damon Rees took his Carl Cox-supported Honda CBR600RR to a pair of third placings at the seventh and final round of the Australian series at Phillip Island, near Melbourne, at the weekend.
It was enough for the 2017 New Zealand 600cc supersport champion to clinch the Supersport 600cc class win in Australia at the weekend by a solitary point and also earned the Kiwi rising star fourth overall for the Australian national series.
The track temperature for the day’s second 600cc race was a scorching 45-degrees Celsius, more than 10 degrees warmer than it had been for race one earlier in the day and this meant the track conditions were much slipperier and grip was much harder to find than on a cooler track surface.
But Rees still quickly found himself among the leading trio of riders.
Tom Toparis, from Goulburn, in New South Wales, was out in front, while Rees and Newcastle’s Max Croker battled hard for the runner-up spot. Rees made a determined effort over the final few laps to get on terms with Croker and made his move on the last lap. Rees made his first thrust at Hayshed corner, the Kiwi then sat on the tail of Croker at MG Hairpin but couldn’t quite get there on the run to the line and Croker managed to hang on to that second position.
“I’m pretty pleased with that,” said Rees matter-of-factly. “I started off the season with a stock engine and was three seconds a lap off the pace of the leading guys. But I progressed through the season and, at the end, I was going 1.8 seconds a lap quicker at Phillip Island than I was at the start of the year. That’s amazing progress. I was always there or thereabouts for a podium finish, but a DNF when I crashed at the previous round at Winton cost me dearly … certainly cost me a podium finish for the championship. But that’s racing I suppose. Even so, I finished the year in Australia strong and I’m happy with that.”
Rees said he was now looking forward to racing both a Honda CBR600RR and a Honda CBR1000RR SP1 in the upcoming Suzuki Series pre-nationals competition in New Zealand, contesting both the Formula Two (600cc) and Formula One classes.
He will then tackle the four-round New Zealand Superbike Championships, starting in Christchurch on January 5-6, racing in the Superbike class only.
“I feel it’s going to be a good summer season in New Zealand,” smiled the Honda man.
The Rees Racing Team is supported by Blue Wing Honda, Carl Cox Motorsport, Darbi Accessories, Pirelli, K-Tech Suspension, BikesportNZ.com and Tony Rees Motorcycles.
Australian Supersport 600 Championship final round result:
1st Damon Rees (New Zealand, Honda) – 36
2nd Callum Spriggs – 35
3rd Max Croker – 33
4th Scott Nicholson – 33
5th Nic Liminton – 31
Australian Supersport 600 Championship standings for 2018:
1st Cru Halliday – 361
2nd Tom Toparis – 308
3rd Max Croker – 246
4th Damon Rees (New Zealand, Honda) – 231
5th Zack Johnson – 204
Credit: Words and photo by Andy McGechan