The Yamaha Motor New Zealand’s two top-tier racers Alastair Hoogenboezem and Jake Lewis came out swinging at the 2020 New Zealand Superbike Championships’ season opener, scoring two provisional overall podiums.
Racing at their local track Mike Pero Motorsport Park (Ruapuna) in Christchurch over Saturday and Sunday, the Canterbury-based duo, who ride for the Yamaha Racing Team (YRT), finished second and third for the weekend on their mighty 1000cc YZF-R1 race machines in the Superbike class.
Hoogenboezem (27) had a near-perfect score card with a win in the first 10-lap race on Saturday, followed by a pair of runner-up results in Sunday’s two outings. He sits a mere two points behind class leader Damon Rees in the championship.
“I’m really happy with the result - especially to get a first straight away!” he says.
It is Hoogenboezem’s second season on the YZF-R1 and his experience is paying dividends.
“We are going into each round with information and have got a good base setting for the tracks. The bike really does get going and I’m really comfortable on the YZF-R1,” he says.
Lewis (24) was “absolutely loving” ripping around Ruapuna on his YZF-R1 and was thrilled to claim his first Superbike podium, with a second place behind his Yamaha teammate in the first race. He then backed it up with another podium (third) in race 2 and a fourth in the NZGP race gave him third overall for the weekend.
“My YZF-R1 steadily improved over the weekend and we made leaps and bounds from Friday’s qualifying. The team did a great job working on the set-up,” Lewis says.
YRT team manager Peter (Red) Fenton was enjoying the learning curve he experienced over his first race meeting with the team. While it was rewarding to see the two riders finish high up in the results, he would love to see them ramp it up further at the second round at Timaru’s Levels Raceway this weekend.
“We are always trying to improve and will be carrying that momentum through to next Saturday and Sunday’s racing,” Fenton says.
Yamaha has offered support to 13-year-old Southlander Cormac Buchanan – who is backed by his hometown dealership Rogers Motorcycles in Invercargill - and he had the team’s top result, winning the Supersport 150 class on his YZF-R15.
He described his weekend as “fantastic” as he rode away with a flawless race scorecard - winning all three outings and taking home the NZGP trophy in convincing fashion.
“I secured the honour by claiming the chequered flag by nearly 27secs. Congrats to Jacob Pierce and Liam Humm on their podium placings,” Buchanan said.
Riding his Yamaha YZF-R3 through a packed grid, Timaru’s Harry Parker (19) powered to third overall in the Supersport 300 class. Along with the hot, windy weather that all competitors faced - with temperatures reaching nearly 30degC - Parker’s category was “hectic, with about 30 of us on the track,” he says.
Considering that at least 10 of those riders were capable of winning a race, Parker says it was “awesome” to come away from the opening weekend with a 3-5-4 set of results.
He and Wellington’s Rogan Chandler (22) are part of the Yamaha Racing Development Team (YRDT) managed by Steve Lloyd. It forms the pathway for the up-and-coming younger riders to progress into the YRT when they have built up the necessary skills and speed.
Competing in the Supersport 600 class onboard his Yamaha YZF-R6 for his third year in this class, Chandler didn’t have the best start to his five-round championship. The medium compound tyres he had available didn’t provide the optimal grip on the hot Ruapuna track and he slid off in race one, whilst in third place.
Chandler says the DNF-causing crash rattled him slightly and he played it safe in the second and third races to finish fourth and sixth respectively.
Lloyd commended Chandler for banking some solid points in what was a tough weekend for the young rider.
“Harry put in an awesome effort in his races and is really coming to grips with his new R3. It’s his first season on it and he’s just getting faster and faster,” Lloyd says, of his other YRDT charge.
Yamaha Motor New Zealand’s Motorsport Manager Josh Coppins was unable to attend the first Superbike meeting due to overseas commitments but was kept updated on the team’s progress over the weekend. “After a lot of work to prepare it’s good to get things underway at the Superbike nationals. The crew has done a great job and it really is a team effort, which is showing in the results. What’s even more exciting is that I think we have more to come and the feeling in the Yamaha pits is exciting. I’m looking forward to the next round already,” Josh says.
1st Damon Rees 67
2nd Alastair Hoogenboezem 65
3rd Jake Lewis 49
4th Scott Moir 35
5th Lachlan Epis 33
1st Richie Dibben 76
2nd David Hall 47
3rd Ashton Hughes 47
4th Dale Finch 33
5th Toby Summers 29
8th Rogan Chandler 26
1st Jason Hearn 66
2nd Campbell Grayling 61
3rd Harry Parker 40
4th Blake Ross 38
5th Caleb Gilmore 26
1st Cormac Buchanan 76
2nd Jacob Pierce 56
3rd Oliver Cotton 39
4th Liam Humm 36
5th Jacob Skinner 33
6th Olivia Goddard 26
2020 NZSBK RACE SCHEDULE:
Round One – Ruapuna – 11th & 12th January 2020
Round Two – Levels – 18th & 19th January 2020
Round Three – Hampton Downs – 7th & 8th March 2020
Round Four – Manfield – 28th & 29th March
Round Five – Taupo – 4th & 5th April 2020