It was the same old story with Bay of Plenty’s Tony Rees at the weekend – he’s thoroughly predictable, meticulous and safe – but you could never call this man boring, because he’s also ridiculously fast.
On Sunday, the 49-year-old Honda ace added yet another major victory to his curriculum vitae when he won the iconic Paeroa Battle of the Streets event for the umpteenth time, making the 2017 road-racing season a very special one for him, and there is still plenty more racing yet to be done.
The Whakatane man first won the premier title at the Battle of the Streets event at Paeroa more than 20 years ago and then, at age 46, he celebrated his eighth big win there when he clinched the trophy at the 23rd annual running of the popular event in 2014 – the event skipped a beat in 2015 when persistent rain forced the organisers to abandon the day, the first time that had been done in the entire history of the event.
But he won there again last year and now the Honda star has made it win number ten, the most wins by any one rider at the popular annual event.
Rees won took his Honda CBR1000RR to win both the Formula One races on Sunday – each time finishing ahead of Taupo’s Scott Moir and Glen Eden’s Daniel Mettam – and Rees then backed that up with a start-to-finish win in the 10-lap King of the Streets feature race as well, making it an historic tenth time he’s won the event’s signature race.
Runner-up in that feature race was Manukau’s Toby Summers, crossing the finish line more than 6.5 seconds behind Rees, with Waimauku’s Ray Clee finishing third, a further seven seconds behind.
Rees wasn’t quite able to break the lap record around Paeroa’s fabled hacksaw-shaped circuit, set last year at 44.427 seconds, but that’s okay because it was a record he owns anyway. Rees’ best time this year was 44.90s (set while winning the second of the two Formula One races), not too far off his own record.
Although the Rees name topped the leader board, that wasn’t the only time it featured at the weekend, with Rees’ youngest son, Damon (Honda CBR600RR), finishing sixth in the feature race and his eldest son, Mitch (Honda CBR100RR), finishing 11th.
Making his Paeroa debut, the 24-year-old Mitch impressed by finishing fifth overall in the Formula One battles and 21-year-old Damon, in only his second visit to Paeroa, finished overall runner-up in the 600cc formula two class battles.
“I got a terrible start in the first F1 race,” Tony Rees said. “But I managed to get past Scotty Moir on about lap four and held on to take the win. It was a lot closer in the second F1 race, with Scotty pushing me all the way.
“In the feature race I got a good start and that was that really. It was a long way back to the second-placed rider and I didn’t really know who that was until afterwards.”
Meanwhile, Whanganui’s Richie Dibben (Honda CRF450) was unstoppable in the super motard races at Paeroa, winning both his outings comfortably and setting a new track record of 47.699 seconds in the process.
Other class winners at Paeroa were Te Awamutu’s David Hall (formula two); Whanganui’s Ashley Payne (formula three); Auckland’s Mark Halls (classics, senior); Neville Bull (classics, junior); Neil Martin (post classics, pre 1982); Auckland’s Paul Pavletich (post classics, pre 1989); Whanganui’s Barry Smith and Tracey Bryan (sidecars); Whanganui’s Jason Rees and Bryce Rose (post classic sidecars).
The riders now look ahead to the second half of the New Zealand Superbike Championships, the four-round series resuming with round three set for the Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park circuit, on the outskirts of Taupo, this coming weekend (February 25-26), with the fourth and final round due at Hampton Downs, near Meremere, on the weekend of March 4-5.
The first two rounds of that series were completed in the South Island in January and Tony Rees emerged from those early tussles with an 18-point lead over fellow Honda Alastair Hoogenboezem, of Christchurch.
It is worth noting also that, earlier this season, Tony Rees won the Formula One class in the three-round pre-nationals Suzuki Series, with Damon Rees winning the 600cc F2/Supersport class in that same competition.
Is there no stopping the Rees family?
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
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