Damon Rees hopes to build on the lessons learnt in his rookie National 1000 Superstock series for a fully fledged championship assault.
The Kiwi international rider is a fortnight out from the start of his sophomore season in the UK.
Last year, Rees’ impressive performances caught the eye of several teams.
After his first round he was tied for the lead of the championship. He would finish eighth in the standings despite missing the final round after breaking his shoulder.
Reflecting on his rookie season, Rees says the positives outweighed the negatives in a solid year.
“Barring the last two rounds, I’d say it went really well,” Rees told Velocity News.
“I led the championship, or at least was tied for the lead of it, after the first round.
“In round two, I was in the lead pack for every race.
“And then in round three at Silverstone, which was a circuit I had never been to before, I qualified on the front row and was in the top five.
“We were up the front in the championship until Oulton Park.
“It is probably the hardest track to learn as a rookie. It is narrow, and the bike doesn’t seem to settle.
“For a rookie season, it was not a bad first run. Finishing eighth was pretty good.
“You’ve really got to look at the good results against the bad results to see was a good year.”
Rees has moved to the Ashcourt Racing team for the new year and has just completed pre-season testing over the past month.
He will continue to ride a BMW S1000RR but says some regulation changes between years means there is still plenty to learn before round one.
“The bike is not a whole lot different to last year,” he said.
“It has the same electronics and horsepower as the old bike.
“But there are still some learning curves.
“This year, there is a new tyre. They have a bigger diameter and are less grippy than the old tyre.
“So, it has taken a bit of time to get your head around that.
“The bike is not where I want it to be, but that is just down to sorting out the electronics and getting on top of the new tyre.”
Rees returned to New Zealand over the summer and competed in the national Superbike series to stay race fit over the off-season.
“I got back to New Zealand at a good time.
“I then had a whole summer of racing and riding.
“So, not much of an off-season. But I have come back here feeling fit and strong.”
No longer a series newbie, Rees hopes to be able to challenge for race wins this year.
“Last year, the rounds that went well went unbelievably well,” he said.
“This year, I’d like to iron out the weekends that weren’t so good and aim to be consistent.
“I have been to each track at least two or three times. Whereas last year we hadn’t.
“I’ll aim for wins at rounds where I can and top fives and top tens at the others.
“I am looking forward to round one.”
Round one of the 2021 National 1000 Superstock series is at Oulton Park on June 25-27.