The New Zealand Superbike Championship’s (NZSBK) second round saw both the Yamaha Motor New Zealand teams hitting their strides, as all five riders either finished on the podium at Levels Raceway, or retained top three positions on the overall points table.
It’s a good place to be halfway through the four-round championship, as it shifts away from the South Island and Yamaha Motor New Zealand’s Motorsport Manager Josh Coppins was pleased with the teams’ Timaru performances.
Once again it was Invercargill-based 14-year-old Cormac Buchanan, who stole the show. Riding in both the Supersport 150 and 300 classes for the Yamaha Racing Development Team (YRDT) he was looking to back up the trifecta of wins he notched up in both categories at the opening round last weekend.
In the first race, Buchanan and team-mate Harry Parker - racing on his hometown track - engaged in a tight tussle. Buchanan took the honours after Parker was forced to retire with a mechanical issue.
Parker came out swinging in race two and beat Buchanan to the line by 0.1 seconds.
“I was gutted to see my winning streak end but there’s no denying Harry was on form and determined on his home track. We pushed each other every moment of the race and it was awesome,” Buchanan says.
The battle continued in race three before Parker crashed out of contention, enabling Buchanan to dominate proceedings once again.
“This class is hotly contested so every point is valuable and I’m stoked to be able to extend my overall tally before we head into the North Island rounds,” Buchanan says.
In the Supersport 150 ranks, he won both races and set a new lap record in the process. The third outing was cancelled due to an accident in the previous race holding up the proceedings beyond the cut-off time for racing to finish.
Coppins believes Buchanan is “a star in the making” and enjoys the inter-team rivalry between him and Parker.
“Cormac’s first loss in the 300 class was actually really good for him because he gets that racing experience before going overseas to race. He has had it so easy in the 150 class, which means he is really learning a lot on the YZF-R3. It’s great to see him and Harry battling it out,” Coppins says.
Parker was keen to get the better of his YRDT rival on his local circuit but that was only the case in race two.
“I had a mechanical fault late in race one when I was sitting in second. We took the bike home on Saturday night and rebuilt it then bought it back to the track and won race two,” he says.
Pushing hard in the final outing, he lost the front end three laps in while leading - handing the win to Buchanan. The DNF dropped Parker to third in the championship, leaving him determined to make the most of a Yamaha test day at Hampton Downs next month before the penultimate round at the Auckland track in March.
“The Supersport 300 and 150 classes have such strong representation from Yamaha with riders on the brand’s road racing machines clean-sweeping the Timaru round and the NZSBK overall podiums in both of them,” Coppins says.
Up in the Superbike class, Christchurch’s Alastair Hoogenboezem was on a mission to claim a comeback after two DNFs at Ruapuna last weekend.
“This weekend was all about recovery for us. We needed to gain as many points as possible but couldn’t risk anything. The team took one session at a time and we really improved the bike for race distance,” he says.
“We came out second overall for the weekend and jumped from sixth to fourth in the championship. So we set out to claw back some points and we have. I’m reasonably happy with how we went but we do need to start collecting max points with some wins. I’m looking forward to the North Island tracks where I have had solid results the last few years,” the defending champion says.
Hoogenboezem is now three points adrift of his Yamaha Racing Team (YRT) team mate Jake Lewis, of Rangiora, who had another solid set of results.
His 3-3-5 finishes saw him end up just shy of the round’s top three but retain third in the NZSBK.
“The goal was to continue the form we had at round one and challenge for the podium. We had another great weekend with two podium finishes and some very exciting racing. I’m very happy to be sitting third overall heading into the North Island,” Lewis says.
“Big thank you to the whole Yamaha NZ Superbike team for their work and support. Roll on the final two rounds,” he concludes.
Coppins says the YRT’s two YZF-R1 riders were “pretty consistent in the Superbike class.”
“Al had some of the fastest laps again in both the dry races but we haven’t quite been able to put it together for the win. He really tried. The final race came down to the last lap as Al made a dive up the inside on the back straight but ran wide into the corner allowing Damon [Rees] to take back the lead,” Coppins says.
In the Supersport 600 ranks, Wellington’s Rogan Chandler repeated his trio of runner-up results from the opening round. While he is keen to shrug off the second-best finishes come the North Island rounds in March, he acknowledged it was a good place to launch an attack on class leader Dale Finch.
“I’ve come away with some decent points. We need to work on a few things and once I get those sorted I’ll be back to 100%,” Chandler says.
“Rogan is feeling confident and it will be interesting to see if we can tick all the boxes and he can step up in that class,” Coppins says.
Coppins had never been to Levels Raceway before and upon arriving there was impressed with the facilities and track. He left it feeling “pretty happy overall.”
“It was a much bigger improvement for both Yamaha teams and we still have a few things to sort out for the final two rounds to hopefully boost us further up the championship standings in the top-tier classes.”
NZSBK Round Two Results – Levels Raceway:
1st Damon Rees – 76
2nd Alastair Hoogenboezem (YZF-R1) – 53
3rd Mitch Rees – 49
4th Jake Lewis (YZF-R1) – 43
Supersport 600 (Provisional)
1st Dale Finch – 76
2nd Rogan Chandler (YZF-R6) – 60
3rd Zak Fuller – 48
1st Cormac Buchanan (YZF-R3) – 71
2nd Caleb Gilmore (YZF-R3) – 56
3rd Blayes Heaven (YZF-R3) – 35
8th Harry Parker (YZF-R3) – 25
1st Cormac Buchanan (YZF-R15) – 51
2nd Samuel Guthrie (YZF-R15) – 40
3rd Georgia Elvin (YZF-R15) – 32
NZSBK Championship Points Standings:
1st Damon Rees – 113.5
2nd Mitch Rees – 97
3rd Jake Lewis (YZF-R1) – 82
4th Alastair Hoogenboezem (YZF-R1) – 79
Supersport 600 (Provisional)
1st Dale Finch – 152
2nd Rogan Chandler (YZF-R6) – 120
3rd Avalon Biddle – 85
1st Cormac Buchanan (YZF-R3) – 147
2nd Caleb Gilmore (YZF-R3)– 88
3rd Harry Parker (YZF-R3) – 85
1st Cormac Buchanan (YZF-R15) – 127
2nd Samuel Guthrie (YZF-R15) – 100
3rd Georgia Elvin (YZF-R15) – 77
2020/21 YRT & YRDT RACE SCHEDULE:
5th & 6th December 2020 – Round One Suzuki Series, Taupo
12th & 13th December 2020 – Round Two Suzuki Series, Manfield
8th - 10th January 2021 – NZSBK Round One – Ruapuna Park, Christchurch
15th - 17th January 2021 – NZSBK Round Two – Levels Raceway, Timaru
5th - 7th March 2021 – NZSBK Round Three – Hampton Downs, Auckland (TBC)12th - 14th March 2021 – NZSBK Round Four – Bruce McLaren Park, Taupo