Suzuki Series: Rees family start strong
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The Rees family of Whakatane doubled-up with a winning start to motorcycle road racing’s three-round Suzuki Series at Taupo’s Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park on Sunday.
Multiple national champion Tony Rees (Honda Fireblade) holds a one-point lead over defending Suzuki Series champ Sloan Frost (Suzuki GSX-R1000) of Wellington after the first two races of F1 Superbike competition while his youngest son Damon enjoyed the most successful day of his road racing career in the F2 SuperSport category.
It was commanding display from 21-year-old Damon Rees who set the fastest qualifying time, raced clear of Wellington’s Shane Richardson (Kawasaki) in both races and also re-set the 600cc lap record in both races with a pace that put him within 1.5secs of the fastest big capacity machines.
‘‘I was second in the Suzuki Series last year and have had a couple of second places in the national series, but this is my first major road racing win,’’ said Rees.
Heading to round two at Manfeild this weekend Rees heads the F2 leaderboard with 51 points from Richardson on 44 while two third places has positioned Aucklander Nathanael Diprose (Suzuki) in third place on 40 points.
Frost set the F1 Superbike pace with a pole position effort late in qualifying. But it was the fast-starting Tony Rees who led most of the opening race with Frost initially back in fourth until he moved past Auckland’s Toby Summers (Kawasaki) and Taupo’s Scott Moir (Suzuki) and then slipped past Rees with less than half-a-lap remaining.
Rees’ bike had been struggling for grip on the hot track and he used that experience for a stronger race two effort.
‘‘We started the first race with tyres that had done a few laps in qualifying and had been through a heat-cycle. At the end we were running out grip,’’ he said.
‘‘We put two new tyres on for the second race and that made a difference.’’
Rees got in front with a nicely judged first corner move and held a narrow lead over Frost for the opening laps before opening a clear margin.
‘‘For the first few laps I was getting a pit board that said ‘plus zero’ but then I built a pretty good gap,’’ said Rees.
It was Frost who struggled in the second race.
‘‘We made a mistake setting the rear tyre pressure the same as the front, which is much too high,’’ said Frost.
‘‘The bike was very difficult to ride and after the first few laps I was just in survival mode. Third place points could be my saviour in the series.’’
Frost was passed for second by Liechtenstein visitor Horst Saiger (Kawasaki) in the closing laps and came home in third place. Rees leads the series with 47 points from Frost on 46 while Saiger and Moir share third place on 38 with Summers on 34 points.
Another double winner on Sunday was Isle of Man TT sidecar champion John Holden (GB) teamed with Tauranga ‘swinger’ Robbie Shorter.
Although campaigning Holden’s TT-spec 600cc LCR-Honda F2 outfit they proved too quick for the big capacity rigs and it was Te Puke’s Barry Smith and Tauranga’s Tracey Bryan who claimed two second placings.
Pukerua Bay rider Glen Skachill had three wins at Taupo, taking both Pre-89 Post-classic races on his rare Bimota YB8 and also the only completed F3 Sportbike race of the day on his Honda NSR300.
Tauranga’s Duncan Hart (Yamaha) topped a capacity field of Super Motard racers with a second place in race one and a ride through the leading pack to win race two after a slow start.
Wanganui’s Richard Dibben (Honda) was the first race winner and a race two retirement and Hart leads with 47 points from Ashton Hughes (Bulls) riding a KTM with 38 points.
Lead-swapping battles between BMW S1000RR riders Colin MacGregor (Tauranga) and Nick Southerwood (Auckland) in the BEARS (British, European and American) racing saw MacGregor take two wins and lead the series with 51 points from Southerwood on 44.
This weekend’s second round at Manfeild will see 13-time Isle of Man TT winner Michael Dunlop (Northern Ireland) join the F1 Superbike action on a Suzuki GSX-R1000.