Originally scheduled to leave for another season of racing in the United Kingdom, the Whakatane man has this week decided to delay his adventure and he will now be racing at rounds one and two of the 2021 NZSBK, although he insists he is only here short-term, with his British Superbike Championship bid still very much alive.
Round one is this weekend at Mike Pero Motorsport Park, at Ruapuna, Christchurch (January 9-10), with second round following swiftly afterwards, just one week later, at Levels International Raceway, near Timaru, on January 16-17.
“After (British Prime Minister) Boris Johnson’s announcement of the new English (COVID-19 pandemic) lockdown, I have made the last-minute decision to race in rounds one and two of the NZSBK Championship,” said Rees.
“I originally was not going to race as I need to save as much as I can for the coming season in the Bennett’s British Superbike Championship and I’m meant to return to the UK in late February. But, due to the uncertainty of when I’ll be able to return to the UK to test bikes, I think it’s best for me to get as much bike time as I can here in NZ so that I’m best prepared for BSB.
“I’m really excited to travel down to Ruapuna this weekend to join Mitch Rees, Zak Fuller and the Team Rees crew.”
Damon Rees had been the dominant figure during last year’s NZSBK series.
However, the 2020 NZSBK series was cut short (reduced from five rounds to three) when the COVID-19 pandemic forced a nationwide lock-down in New Zealand, but the rider with the most wins, Damon Rees, had already left the country by then.
Rees had headed to the UK to race after round two and he had won five of the six races that had been run up until that stage.
From the nine superbike class races that were eventually able to be staged (three each at rounds one, two and three), the wins were shared exclusively between Rees (five wins), Christchurch’s Alastair Hoogenboezem (two wins) and Taupo’s Scott Moir (two wins).
As things stand, while Rees’ decision now to stay and race rounds one and two again this year is a welcome one, it’s again not going to earn him the title he possibly deserves, assuming he is again the dominant figure early on.
Even so, it will be interesting and exciting to have an additional top-flight rider on the starting grid for these two South Island events.
“My current plans to race in the UK are still going ahead,” he said, clarifying his position. “I’m just racing this weekend in case I am unable to return upon the current timeline to test. My plans to race in BSB have not changed.”
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ
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