While many motorcycle racers hang up their boots and helmet when they reach their mid-40s, multi-time former national superbike champion Tony Rees continues to show that even at 45 he's a force to be reckoned with.
The Whakatane Honda star certainly demonstrated at Paeroa just over a week ago that he still has plenty of lessons to teach others.
Rees finished runner-up overall at the 22nd annual Battle of the Streets race meeting, each time finishing close behind Wellington rising star Sloan Frost (BMW), but ahead of the rest of New Zealand's cream of the crop, including Taranaki's Hayden Fitzgerald (Suzuki GSX-R1000).
Rees underlined his ability by setting the fastest lap time in each of his three outings on the concrete at the curb-lined streets of Paeroa.
"It was perhaps the most exciting time I've had racing on the streets of Paeroa and I've been around here a few times over the years," Rees said.
"Every race, I was the fastest rider out there. I just needed to get better starts. It was always a struggle to get past other riders.
"Sloan Frost and I had a nice dice for the lead, especially in that last race and I guess I was riding too 'nice'.
I could have shoved any of those other riders off the track if I wanted to ride dirty. I must be getting soft in my old age,," he laughed.
"Perhaps I've still got some lessons to teach these young guys."
Castrol Honda Team manager Peter Finlay, of Auckland, was impressed by Rees' performance.
"Tony has not raced the recent South Island rounds of the superbike nationals and so it was tough for him to come up against the riders who have been racing a lot lately," said Finlay.
"This is a fantastic day for him and he's looking forward to contesting the two upcoming North Island rounds of the superbike nationals."
The New Zealand Superbike Championships will resume shortly with round four at Hampton Downs on March 17, with the fifth and final round at Taupo on March 24.
Rees will take his Castrol Honda CBR1000RR into battle at both events and, if his performance at Paeroa is any indicator, he'll be a definite threat to the championship leaders, a challenge to riders such as Frost and Fitzgerald, as well as national championship leaders Robbie Bugden (Suzuki GSX-R1000), of Australia, Feilding's Craig Shirriffs (Suzuki GSX-R1000) and Christchurch's Dennis Charlett (Suzuki GSX-R1000).
While Frost was dominating the Formula One and Bears racing at Paeroa, Auckland's Toby Summers (R and R Powersports Yamaha) was also battling to score double the glory with outstanding performances in the Formula Two and Supermotards classes.
The 40-year-old Summers finished first equal in both bike categories.
He took his 2011-model Yamaha YZ450F to win the day's first of two supermotard races, finishing ahead of Taupo's Scotty Moir (Aprilia SXV550).
However, Summers had to settle for runner-up spot in the next supermotard race, this time behind Moir, and this meant the two men shared first spot overall for the day.
It was a similar situation for Summers in the formula two class, when he took his Yamaha R6 to share the wins with Wanganui rival Ashley Payne (Suzuki GSX-R600).
Summers, Moir and Payne will also be going head-to-head again when the superbike nationals resume at Hampton Downs.
- DRIVENBy Andy McGechan Email Andy