In Christchurch, Alastair Hoogenboezem (27) will mark the day he won his first Superbike title (provisional), with his parents and two brothers, after Motorcycling New Zealand announced in a statement today that it is “calling the NZSBK Championship after the three rounds that have been completed.” The final two rounds have been cancelled due to the unknown impact of Covid-19 to the sport.
Down in Invercargill, aged only 13-years-old, Cormac Buchanan, was thrilled to learn that he is likely the youngest rider in the sport’s history to win a New Zealand road racing title. He adds the Supersport 150 Championship to the NZGP and NZTT titles that he also won during the 2020 series.
While in Wellington, Rogan Chandler (22) was happy to have achieved his best-ever finish, with a second in the Supersport 600 class.
For 1000cc YZF-R1 rider Hoogenboezem, it was his third national title, earned in equally spaced time frames. He won the 125cc class in 2010, then five years later, in 2015, claimed the Supersport 600 trophy. Today he added the top-level 2020 Superbike silverware to his cabinet.
“I plan to defend it. There’s no class to move up to - this is it. So hopefully the wins don’t come every five years,” Hoogenboezem says, laughing.
Now in his fifth year in the Superbike class, racing in the highest-tier Yamaha Racing Team, Hoogenboezem has worked his way through the field from an awestruck youngster racing against nine-time Superbike champion Andrew Stroud in 2011, to the talented championship-winning rider he is today. The circumstances surrounding his victory however, were in his own words - “weird.”
“I’ve never had a win or title like this before. Normally I’d be up on the top step of the podium with the crowd cheering. It feels a bit weird. I’m excited but can’t celebrate it with anyone [outside his bubble] yet. I’m lucky that I was in the best seat in the house after Hampton Downs.”
Hoogenboezem is referring to the third - and now final round at Hampton Downs in March, where he bounced back from a significant crash in the first race to take out the prestigious TT title in the third race on his Yamaha YZF-R1. The closely-fought victory earned him enough points to snatch the overall title.
“Massive thanks to the team. Last year I didn’t think it could get too much better in terms of a ride in New Zealand but with Josh and Amy [Coppins] coming on board in 2020, it really ramped it up. This year, we had the team and the bike and the support and could just concentrate on the riding. It’s not an individual sport, it’s a team sport, so big thanks to Yamaha and the team’s and my own personal sponsors,” Hoogenboezem says.
Yamaha Motor New Zealand Motorsport Manager Josh Coppins was understandably rapt to have captured the Superbike title in his first year with the team, saying it was unexpected but warmly welcomed. He wholeheartedly congratulated Hoogenboezem on his victory.
Buchanan, who is supported by Yamaha and backed by his hometown dealership Rogers Motorcycles in Invercargill, says he will “remember forever” being awarded his first New Zealand championship.
“For sure it’s not the way I wanted to win the title - it would have been great to race those final two rounds and have the chance to celebrate with my Yamaha team mates but that’s not possible in the circumstances. Motorcycling New Zealand had to make a very tough call and made it with the safety of everyone in mind.”
The youngster has an enviable record, going through unbeaten in the Supersport class on his YZF-R15, in his rookie NZSBK season.
“A lot of the credit for that goes to my coach Steve Bagshaw and my dad Stacey for always believing in me and backing me to achieve my goals.”
“It’s been an amazing experience to be in a winning environment with the Yamaha team and have the chance to learn from wicked riders like Alastair, Jake, Rogan and Harry. Our results overall across all the classes really shows the successful team culture that Josh and Amy Coppins and Steve Lloyd have created for us and I’m honoured to be part of that,” Buchanan wraps up.
Chandler also would’ve loved to finish the season, especially having the chance to race on his home track at Manfeild. However, he took positives away from the fact that after the first round he was languishing in eighth place and made it through to second overall by the conclusion of the third round, courtesy of a stunning set of triple victories on his Yamaha YZF-R6 at Hampton Downs.
He credited the work put in by Robert Taylor (KSS Suspension) and Steve Lloyd, who manages the Yamaha Racing Development Team satellite squad, for helping to get him back in the game.
“We finally figured out mentally what makes me tick and what makes me ride well. At least I’ve learned all of that this year and I can go into next year super confident and keep that momentum up,” Chandler says.
All three Yamaha riders echoed the same sentiment - that it was a shame not to be able to share their achievements with their Yamaha Motor New Zealand team that has been so instrumental in their 2020 successes.
Coppins says he couldn’t praise the Yamaha Pit crew “Peter Fenton (Red), Nigel Friend, Hank Randell, Tim McArthur, Nic Bishop (Smokey) and Dave Cole” highly enough. “My wife Amy and I put things in place but the brains behind the set-up, is those guys. I think we raised the bar this year, but I feel like we’ve only just scratched the surface with the crew, with the bikes, the riders and also with our set-up.”
“Our other Yamaha team members also deserve a mention with Timaru’s Harry Parker finishing fifth in the Supersport 300 class and Rangiora rider Jake Lewis sixth in the Superbikes. So, I’m really excited to move forwards with all our promising road racing riders into next season,” Coppins says.
Yamaha Motor New Zealand’s General Manager Alan Petrie says that on behalf of the brand and its fans, he congratulates the team’s riders on their fine efforts.
“We, like them, would love to have seen the series run to the full end. It is what it is and will not take away from the fantastic results.”
He commended Coppins on the success he has achieved in his first year in his across-racing-divisions role with Yamaha.
“He has really developed Yamaha’s fortunes in road racing. In off-road we’ve also had a very good year with the Altherm JCR Yamaha team claiming the national MX1 and MX2 titles,” Petrie says.
The level of fan and customer engagement has been heartening this season and reinforces Yamaha’s commitment to every level of rider, from novices to professionals, Petrie adds. Coppins concludes that it has been a “huge motorsport year” for Yamaha.
“I feel like we’ve delivered but can do more. As always, we are looking forward to the future.”
*Results for the Superbikes and the Supersport 300 classes will remain provisional until technical checks have been completed. MNZ will do its utmost to get these done as soon as possible.