To see Whakatane's Mitchell Rees race a motorcycle is to catch a glimpse into the future.

The 24-year-old Honda rider is starting out on only his second season of motorcycle road-racing and despite his relative novice status, Rees is second in the premier superbike class standings at the halfway stage of the 2018 nationals.

His 50-year-old father, Tony Rees, is the 2017 national superbike champion, but an injury sustained while racing in December means he is restricted to viewing from the sideline.

To see his eldest son so effortlessly taking up the baton must be a huge source of pride for him.


The second of four rounds of the New Zealand Superbike Championships was held at Levels Raceway, just outside Timaru, at the weekend and young Rees again found himself fighting for the championship lead.

Though this was only his first ever visit to the Timaru track, Rees showed he was a quick learner, qualifying his Honda CBR1000SP1 fourth fastest, less than a second slower than the man who was quickest, 36-year-old former national champion Sloan Frost.

Rees then stepped up the pace, setting the fastest time in race one on Saturday, although he did have to settle for fourth at the finish.

The following day he twice finished runner-up behind Frost and that earned him a solid hold of second spot in the championship standings.

Frost won the weekend and leads Rees by 24 points as they prepare for round three of the series at Hampton Downs in March, and Rees is quietly confident he can chew into Frost's advantage.

"I'd definitely like to get my first win. We'll get there eventually. I'm still learning this sport.

"I don't think I'm fit enough yet and I will work on that over the coming weeks. We have a bit of a break now before the next round and I'll use that time. There's a lot of strain on the body riding these machines at speed. Trying to change direction at the end of a 300km/h straight, and still make the corner, can be quite difficult.

"But I'm pretty stoked with how I've been going. I had never been at the Timaru track until the weekend, so there was a lot for me to learn. The series heads to the North Island now and I'm much more familiar with those tracks.


"I'm second in the championship chase and the title is not beyond my reach. I have an awesome team behind me, not just mum and dad, but the whole crew and my brother Damon too," Rees said.

He will race the opening round of the Australian Superbike Championships at Phillips Island on February 24-25, that event sharing the programme billing with the opening round of the World Superbike Championships.

"It will be cool to go over and have a dabble at that," he said.

Rees finished sixth overall in his debut season of New Zealand superbike racing in 2017 and, if his form continues, he could at least half that number in 2018.