Yamaha's Buchanan Enters History Books With Double Title Win

There’s a saying that proclaims ‘it’s a lot harder to defend a championship than to win one’, which Yamaha Racing Development Team’s (YRDT) Cormac Buchanan not only confounded but added to at the final New Zealand Superbikes Championship (NZSBK) round in Taupo over the weekend.

The 14-year old Invercargill superkid reclaimed his 2020 Supersport 150 crown with an unbeaten domination of the eight races, then secured the hotly-contested Supersport 300 title with two races in hand and a staggering 98-point lead over his nearest rival, teammate Harry Parker.

Motorcycling New Zealand’s Race Racing Commissioner Grant Ramage confirmed that Buchanan had secured himself an entry in the motorsport’s record books. 

“He would be the youngest rider in recent history who has won two titles in a year,” he says.

For Buchanan, this weekend’s final three races were a fitting way to conclude an astounding rookie season in the Supersport 300 ranks. 

Despite being the youngest competitor to contest the full 2021 NZSBK, Buchanan’s exceptional list of achievements included earning pole position at all three rounds for both classes; setting several new lap records and winning all bar one of his 17 races. His sole runner-up spot was conceded by a mere  0.1secs to Parker. 

“I will remember this for the rest of my life - it’s an historic moment and I will treasure it,” Buchanan says.

“Being part of this team, I really wanted to add another two New Zealand titles to the Yamaha trophy cabinet. The support I’ve had from [Yamaha Motor New Zealand Motorsport Manager] Josh Coppins, our team manager Steve Lloyd and the whole YRDT crew has been unreal and this is the reward for all the effort which has gone in.”

“It hasn’t even been two years since my first-ever road race, so it all feels surreal to be honest. Two consistent contributors from the start have been my coach Steve Bagshaw - he’s a huge factor in my success - along with my dad Stacey on the spanners as my pit chief," Buchanan says.

He leaves in two weeks for Europe where he will make history as the first Kiwi rider selected to compete in the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup. He will race in a support class, on the same race programme as the MotoGP superstars at iconic circuits in Portugal, Spain, France, Germany, Austria and Finland over seven months.

“It’s a huge step and there is so much work ahead as I test myself against the best young riders in the world, plus learn a whole new bike and all the tracks. But I’m excited about the challenge and just want to do everyone proud and represent New Zealand like the legends of our sport who have raced over there before me.

“Rookies Cup is such an important step in my racing career and I will make the most of this opportunity. This is my dream and I’m living it,” Buchanan concludes.

Coppins says: “Cormac was stunning not only in results and in his lap times but also in his self-management. His mental game - the way he is very humble in winning and gracious in defeat - all adds up to that 1% difference we look for in our top racers at Yamaha.”

“He is a real attribute to us as a team, even at such a young age. No doubt he’s going to go on to great things and he deserves it. We are only a small part in what he wants to achieve and we are trying to do the best we can to propel him into achieving his goals and dreams. We wish him all the best in Europe.”

Timaru’s Parker says he was “proud to claim second overall in the Supersport 300 class.”

“Yesterday’s racing featured some intense tussles! The opening stanza saw the lead change several times and I was leading the charge before tucking the front on turn seven. That closed the gap on the points table to just two adrift from Dave Fellows. Holy hecka - a humdinger of a battle ensued! I managed to snatch the lead down the back straight on the last lap to claim 2NZ,” Parker says.

“Massive thanks to Steve Lloyd, my mechanic Brent, my dad Steve and the YRDT.” 

Coppins described Parker’s performance as “exceptional. I’m really happy with his performance. We had 1-2 in the 300s and Yamaha YZF-R15 riders placed 1-2-3 in the Supersport 150 class.”

In the top-level Superbike class Yamaha Racing Team (YRT) rider and defending champion Alastair Hoogenboezem raced his 1000cc Yamaha YZF-R1 as hard as he could but was unable to hang onto his 2020 title. A disastrous first round where he incurred two DNFs meant he had an uphill battle on his hands and two seconds and a win at Taupo weren’t enough to bridge the gap.

“I moved from fourth in the championship to third which is pretty cool but obviously when you are defending your title you want to defend it and get first again. However, considering our first round at Ruapuna where we lost 50 points, to come back and finish 24 points - which is less than a race win away from winning a championship - is cool. It just shows how much of an effort we put in the last couple of rounds.”

“Big thanks to Josh and Amy Coppins, Yamaha New Zealand, my side of the garage and all my personal sponsors,” Hoogenboezem says.

With New Zealand’s fluctuating COVID-19 Alert Levels causing the cancellation of the Hampton Downs-scheduled third round earlier this month, he was deprived of three extra invaluable races to play catch up.

Hoogenboezem’s thoughts have turned to the future and he is looking forward to developing the new Yamaha 2021 R1 and is focused on getting his Superbikes title back in 2022.

Coppins says there were a lot of positives with fastest laps, race wins and pole positions for Hoogenboezem in what was ultimately a tough season.

His YRT teammate Jake Lewis, of Rangiora, was really solid in the South Island rounds, Coppins says.

“He also went better than expected in Taupo and had a good championship ending. We were really happy for him and proud of his achievements.”

Lewis says he hasn’t raced in Taupo since 2019 “but managed to find a good setup throughout practise on Friday and from there, I stayed consistent all weekend to score valuable championship points.”

“We came away fourth overall in the NZSBK which I'm really proud of. Huge thanks to the entire Yamaha NZ team for an awesome season - the results we have achieved together have been amazing. There were some great steps forward which I hope we can keep building upon into the future,” Lewis concludes.

Wellington’s Rogan Chandler was philosophical about his second place in the Supersport 600 class.

“We proved we were fast enough here in Taupo to make a good fight for the championship. Second overall not the worst thing for the season,” he says.

Coppins wraps up the 2021 season with a sense of satisfaction around “really solid brand representation under YRDT. Steve Lloyd and his wife Diana provide such a good pathway for our Yamaha customers and team riders. Thanks also to all the Yamaha NZ team, our mechanics and riders’ families for their work over the season

“We are well into planning for next season and have a clear structure of what we want to achieve.”

OVERALL NZSBK Championship Standings:

Superbike 

1st Mitch Rees – 168

2nd Damon Rees – 153.5

3rd Alastair Hoogenboezem (YZF-R1) – 144

4th Jake Lewis (YZF-R1) – 111

Supersport 600 (Provisional)

1st Dale Finch – 209

2nd Rogan Chandler (YZF-R6) – 170

3rd Zak Fuller – 135

Supersport 300 

1st Cormac Buchanan (YZF-R3) – 223

2nd  Harry Parker (YZF-R3) – 125

3rd Dave Fellows (YZF-R3) – 117

Supersport 150 

1st Cormac Buchanan (YZF-R15) – 203

2nd  Samuel Guthrie (YZF-R15) – 156

3rd Georgia Elvin (YZF-R15) – 103