You can’t keep a good man down – and the same can probably be said of Tony Rees’ motorcycle too as the Whakatane man mounted a “back to the future” assault on one of New Zealand’s biggest race meetings at the weekend.
The Bay of Plenty man dusted off his 2005 model Yamaha R1 and entered the Battle of the Streets race meeting at Paeroa on Sunday and stunned onlookers with his pace, putting the bike on pole position.
The 1000cc Yamaha superbike was the same machine he’s raced to win the New Zealand Superbike Championship in 2005 and, although technology has now moved on to include such ‘goodies’ as traction control, the Whakatane rider proved his bike was still capable of winning seven years after its manufacture.
“It was another great day of hot racing action at Paeroa,” said the 44-year-old Rees.
“The 2005 Yamaha R1 had not been raced since the 2005 Australian Superbikes round at Phillip Island (in Australia), so it was a matter of giving it a service, new tyres and brake pads, and then ‘let’s go racing!”
“The 2005 model lacked a few of the modern goodies like cross-plane crank, quick-shifter, slipper clutch and traction control, but that didn’t mean it wouldn’t be fun to ride. After a few small suspension changes, after the first practice session, I managed the fastest time in qualifying to put it on pole position.
“After a slow start in race one, I put in some good laps to finish third behind Australian Dan Stauffer (Yamaha) and young Christchurch charger Ryan Hampton (Honda).
“Race two was the King of the Streets race and I had yet another average start. This was a bike with a seven-year-old clutch, which wasn’t helping the jump off the line. It shuddered a bit.”
After 10 hot laps, Rees crossed the finish line in second place, 2.5 seconds behind Stauffer, making it a Yamaha 1-2 for the day’s feature race.
“There was nothing left of the tyres after that one … they were shredded,” said Rees.
“Race three was more of the same – average off the start and, after a 10-lap fight with Ryan Hampton and (Hawera’s) Hayden Fitzgerald (Honda), I had to be content with fourth place.
“All in all, not a bad day racing for a part-time rider on a seven-year-old machine.”
Rees is supported by Yamaha, DID chains, Sidi boots, Signedge, BikeRider magazine, BikesportNZ.com and Dunlop tyres.
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com