The four riders used the Motorcycling Canterbury event at Mike Pero Motorsport Park Ruapuna to fine-tune their Yamaha machines, adjust to new classes and display their new Altherm Window Systems kit. Late last year, the New Zealand windows and doors company expanded its sponsorship of the Altherm JCR Yamaha motocross team, to include the Yamaha road racing division.
Yamaha Motor New Zealand Motorsport Manager Josh Coppins was track-side to ensure Alastair Hoogenboezem made the transition onto his new 2021 Yamaha YZF-R1M; Jake Lewis and Harry Parker settled into the Supersport 600 class and Cormac Buchanan dominated the SuperSport 300 category.
The three-day meeting was originally meant to host the New Zealand Superbike Championship’s (NZSBK) opening round but that has now been postponed until March.
“This was our first event under our new Altherm road racing colours and it was important to get the team working well together. We had a new bike for Al and he raced it once over the weekend as we integrated it into the team and progressed with it,” Coppins says.
A Cantabrian, Hoogenboezem has recently moved to Auckland, but he happily returned to his home track to race both his former Yamaha R1 and new R1M and get some competitive mileage under his belt.
“It was good to see the NZ number one Mitch Rees come down, so there was a bit of competition for me. My pace was really good, despite the lack of racing recently and I got down to 0.3secs from the lap record,” Hoogenboezem says.
He and Rees were in a league of their own and traded wins back and forth, with the Altherm Yamaha rider eventually finishing on top on Saturday and second to Rees on Sunday.
Entering his fourth season with Yamaha, Hoogenboezem is on track to achieve his goal of wrestling back the number one title he won in 2020. The team spent time getting the new bike ironed out and Hoogenboezem was looking forward to extracting its full potential over the next month before he races it again at the Yamaha Motor New Zealand Sprint Races at Teretonga Park, in Invercargill.
The February 12 and 13 meeting will double as a fundraiser for his team-mate Buchanan, to help finance the talented youngster’s return to Europe to contest the 2022 Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup and FIM JuniorGP campaign.
The Invercargill 15-year-old says his European experience last year was incredible.
“I learned so much competing at Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup against the best young racers in the world and in such a professional environment. I’m pumped to get back and see what I can achieve in 2022. We now know what we have to do. All of the processes and tracks will be more familiar now which will allow me to focus on the racing itself and representing New Zealand the best I can,” Buchanan says.
He certainly settled back into racing successfully on his national turf swiftly, making gains every race on his Yamaha YZF-R3 and finishing the Ruapuna weekend unbeaten in the 300 category races.
“I was rapt to chalk up a new SuperSport 300 lap record, taking over 0.3 seconds off the one I set at NZSBK Championship this time last year. Kudos to Motorcycling Canterbury and all the officials for giving us the chance to not only race but reconnect trackside while sharing our passion for road racing.”
Along with defending the national SuperSport 300 title he won last year as a rookie, Buchanan is focused on making his mark internationally in 2022.
“I want to be fighting consistently in the points and I’m determined to improve as the season progresses given the calibre of competition I will have around me at both Rookies Cup and at the FIM Junior GP in the European Talent Cup, as I will be contesting both championships,” he says.
Rangiora’s Lewis has returned to the SuperSport 600 category, where he claimed the NZSBK title in 2018 and will race under the Yamaha Racing Development Team (YRDT).
“Hopefully we can do the same for 2022. The main reason for changing, is that this class represents the best opportunity to win the championship again. For Yamaha as a whole, we’re fighting for victory in championships across the board. We have the highest chance with Al in Superbikes and myself in 600 and Cormac in 300,” Lewis says.
The qualifying session and two races on Saturday, followed by three races on Sunday couldn’t have gone any better for him, as he qualified on pole and won five from five battles on track.
“Big thanks to the Altherm JCR Yamaha team for the fantastic bike and opportunity. I’ll build on these results, continue to work hard and carry that through to the NZ Superbike Championships, which hopefully begin in March,” Lewis says.
For Timaru’s Parker the weekend was his first big outing on the Yamaha YZF-R6 bike.
“It was good because a lot of fast riders came to this event, so it really made me push to get my lap times down and achieve my personal best. We did a lot of data work with Hayden [Fitzgerald] from KSS and Steve [Bagshaw] which was extremely helpful.”
Parker was looking for a new challenge and decided to move up the ranks from the SuperSport 300 category where he has raced for several seasons. “I've been watching the 600s for a few years now and I've always wanted to race one, so when [YRDT manager] Steve Lloyd asked me if I wanted to step up, I jumped at the opportunity and haven't looked back,” Parker says.
His 2022 season ambitions are to finish in the top 10 and “just keep chipping away at my own personal goals. Then I can come into next season feeling comfortable and fast.”
Coppins says despite the uncertain times with the 2022 racing calendar up in the air, he was impressed with the team’s attitude.
“This weekend demonstrated that the Altherm JCR Yamaha riders are hungry for success and I look forward to seeing them achieve their goals over the coming months.”
Entries for the Yamaha Motor New Zealand Sprint Races at Teretonga are now open online at https://www.mxt.co.nz/2022-teretonga-sprint-races
Saturday - King of Ruapuna – Mike Pero Motorsport Park:
1st Alastair Hoogenboezem (YZF-R1M)
2nd Mitch Rees
3rd Tony Rees
1st Jake Lewis (YZF-R6)
2nd Avalon Biddle
3rd Nick Cain
1st Cormac Buchanan (YZF-R3)
2nd Dennis Charlotte
3rd Kane Bentley
Sunday - NZGP Titles – Mike Pero Motorsport Park:
1st Mitch Rees
2nd Alastair Hoogenboezem (YZF-R1M)
3rd Tony Rees
1st Jake Lewis (YZF-R6)
2nd Avalon Biddle
3rd Seth Devereux
9th Harry Parker
1st Dave Fellows
2nd Richard Markham-Barrett
3rd Johnny Lewis
9th Cormac Buchanan (YZF-R3)
2022 YRT & YRDT RACE SCHEDULE:
8th & 9th January 2022 – NZSBK Round One – Ruapuna Park, Christchurch *postponed till March
15th & 16th January 2022 – NZSBK Round Two – Teretonga, Invercargill *postponed till March
5th & 6th March 2022 – NZSBK Round Three – Hampton Downs, Auckland
12th & 13th March 2022 – NZSBK Round Four – Bruce McLaren Park, Taupo