The temperatures and the pace were both scorching as lap records at Levels International Raceway tumbled in the flagship Superbike class. Yamaha Racing Team’s (YRT) Alastair Hoogenboezem, of Christchurch, found that from Friday’s practise, his previous quickest laps at the Timaru track meant nothing, as he blitzed them on his Yamaha YZF-R1.
“Practise went well on Friday and straight away we were setting the fastest lap times I’ve ever set around the track.”
By qualifying on Saturday he’d managed to bring his time down below the previous 1min.03.3secs record to a 1min.02.7secs time, which placed him on P3 for the start grid. That was where he would remain by the end of Saturday’s race 1.
Sunday’s race 2 didn’t go to plan, after a tough start and some minor contact into turn one left him languishing in the opening laps. Hoogenboezem finished in sixth and was pleased to have kept his bike upright and logged some points,” he says.
Bouncing back in race 3, he worked his way up to second and was looking to pass the front-running rider Damon Rees a couple of times on the final laps.
“Unfortunately I got passed for third and finished in third but I was happy to be dicing with the guys who were winning the race,” he says.
A third place overall for the round means the 27-year-old is comfortably sitting second in the championship. Series leader Rees leaves the country now to race internationally for the remainder of the season - opening the door for Hoogenboezem to move into title contention over the three North Island rounds.
His YRT teammate Rangiora’s Jake Lewis finished slightly further back in the field over the two days of racing. His 7-5-7 results meant there was no repeat of the two overall Yamaha Superbike podiums that he and Hoogenboezem scored at the previous round last weekend. Nonetheless, Lewis had some heated battles and changes made to his Yamaha YZF-R1 gave him more confidence in the front end grip.
“We had some great temps which allowed some nice feeling with the bike and good grip. I stayed consistent and my lap times were good. The Yamaha team did a great job and everybody worked well. Roll on the next round at Hampton Downs,” he says.
YRT team manager Peter (Red) Fenton gave his top-finishing rider credit as he faced up to the more race-seasoned Rees and Australian visitor Lachlan Epis.
“I look at how well Al has been taking it to these two guys and it shows how well he has been riding.”
Over the remaining nine races, he was confident Hoogenboezem would further hone his “on the edge” passes.
Determined to put a disappointing first round behind him, Yamaha Racing Development Team (YRDT) rider Wellington’s Rogan Chandler (22) stormed through his three Supersport 600 class races to finish second overall for the weekend.
Piloting his Yamaha YZF-R6, the Wellingtonian says he “completely changed the front end of the bike.”
“Everything we did worked and seemed to make sense. All those changes helped and the YZF-R6 feels great.”
Racing on his home track, Timaru’s Harry Parker repeated his 2019 honour, with victory in the Allan Ramage Memorial Trophy. He notched up 2-1-2 results in the separate series of three, three-lap sprint races - for the fastest 12 qualifiers from the Supersport 300cc class - that finished off the weekend.
“I was lucky enough to win this amazing piece of history for the second year in a row,” he says.
The 19-year-old described it as an “amazing weekend, where the Yamaha YZF-R3 was set up perfect and our tyre wear was wearing just as good.”
His triple set of third places gave him a provisional third overall for the weekend and sees him sitting in that same position in the championship after two rounds.
Invercargill’s Cormac Buchanan once again demonstrated he is a future star in the making - dominating the Supersport 150 class on his YZF-R15 - in the same convincing style in which he won round one.
He once again claimed a comprehensive victory in each of his three races - notching up a new lap record in race one and then bettering it in race three.
“It was an awesome weekend. To be the only rider in the whole NZSBK to earn perfect points so far after two rounds is unreal and I couldn’t have dreamed of a better start to our first national campaign,” the Rogers Motorcycles-backed youngster says.
“My focus now is to stay as consistent as I have been, while still developing my riding. I also want to perform strongly to not only represent the Yamaha brand but showcase this new Supersport 150 class to other young riders and help grow it,” he adds.
Yamaha Motor New Zealand’s Motorsport Manager Josh Coppins was unable to attend the second NZSBK round due to overseas commitments. However, the Yamaha news from back home was encouraging.
“Overall it was a good weekend with lots of podiums and wins for Yamaha as a brand. It was great to see strong representation in the Supersport 150 class, with six Yamaha riders competing and also to note that six of the top 10 riders in the Supersport 300 class were all riding Yamaha bikes,” Coppins says.
“We are in a great championship position across all classes. The small break we have now means we can work on a few things to improve the package, which is exciting because we feel there’s more to come. We are more focused than ever,” he concludes.
The NZSBK series resumes with round three at Hampton Downs on March 7-8 and then continues at Manfeild on March 28-29, before finishing at Taupo on April 4-5.
NZSBK ROUND TWO OVERALL RESULTS:
1st Damon Rees (75)
2nd Lachlan Epis (61)
3rd Alastair Hoogenboezem (42)
4th Scott Moir (34)
5th Sloan Frost (34)
1st Richie Dibben (70)
2nd Rogan Chandler (49)
3rd Dale Finch (46)
4th Ashton Hughes (45)
5th Toby Summers (32)
Supersport 300 (Provisional)
1st Nathanael Diprose (70)
2nd Jacob Stroud (65)
3rd Harry Parker (48)
4th Jason Hearn (35)
5th Hamish Fox (28)
1st Cormac Buchanan (76)
2nd Jacob Pierce (56)
3rd Liam Hunn (52)
4th Oliver Cotton (39)
5th Jacob Skinner (32)
6th Olivia Goddard (31)