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Mitchell Rees Emerges as Title Contender

Mitchell Rees Emerges as Title Contender

by Andy McGechan,

DECEMBER 11, 2017: It was probably always going to happen one day, and perhaps that day came on Sunday.

Whakatane's Mitchell Rees has long admired and respected his multi-time superbike champion father, just-turned 50-year-old Tony Rees, and in recent years he has been closely following in his dad's wheel-tracks, attempting to carve a career for himself as a elite superbike racer in his own right.

Now he can say he's truly come out from the shadow of his national champion father, the 24-year-old Honda rider's performance at the opening round of the annual Suzuki Tri-Series at Bruce McLaren Motorsports Park in Taupo on Sunday heralding his emergence as a credible national title contender.

Taupo's Scott Moir made the most of his home-track advantage to win the day in the premier Formula One class on Sunday, but father and son pair Tony and Mitchell Rees kept him under pressure.

Whakatane Honda shop owner Tony Rees is the defending Suzuki Tri-Series champion, but he had his hands full battling with Mitchell as the two Honda men chased Suzuki's Moir in the first of two F1 races on Sunday.

Tony Rees eventually claimed the No.2 spot, finishing 2.1 seconds behind Moir, while Mitchell Rees had to settle for third, but the winter cobwebs had truly now been swept away.

The next race was problematic, with a massive first-corner crash wiping out half of the 18-rider field, Moir and Tony Rees among them. A re-start was ordered, but not without teams first enduring frantic moments in the pits as they attempted to repair or replace damaged bikes.

Tony Rees resorted to dusting off his "spare parts" back-up bike and lined up for the re-start.

Meanwhile, Mitchell Rees was like lightning as he snatched the lead at the re-start, with Moir for close company.

Rees kept Moir at bay for seven of the eight laps, before succumbing to pressure from Moir on the final lap. Rees eventually crossed the finish line in the runner-up position and barely a bike-length behind his rival.

With two wins, Moir leads the series standings, but Mitchell Rees' 3-2 score-card means he is just nine points adrift as the riders head to Manfeild for round two this coming Sunday. The public streets of Whanganui, the famous Cemetery Circuit, awaits riders for the final showdown on Boxing Day.

"I think the stint I had racing in Australia earlier this year helped a lot,´ said Mitchell Rees afterwards.

"I didn't crash or do anything stupid and I think that was the secret today.

"I qualified fourth fastest (on Sunday morning) and I hadn't expected that either," said the national No.6.

"Then I thought to myself, 'okay, sweet, maybe I can push for a top-five finish'. To come away with a third and a second was even better."

Unfortunately for 2017 national superbike champion Tony Rees, the battery in his back-up bike had gone flat early in that final race and he failed to finish, virtually ruining any chance he might have had to successfully defend his series trophy.

Tony Rees said his back-up bike had not been started or run in the previous three weeks and the battery hadn't been charged up.

"I tried to battle on, but the it just stopped. It's a pity, for sure, but I'm pleased with the progress we've managed to make over the past few weeks and I'll carry on in the series and just fly the flag for Honda.

"What Mitchell achieved today was fantastic. I'm proud of him. Maybe I can retire now," he laughed.

"But, honestly, I'm not ready to give up yet. While I still have the pace to win, I'll carry on. I love racing."

© Scoop Media

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