His goal going into the second NZSBK round was to repeat his season-opening winning streak from Taupo last weekend and Altherm Yamaha’s Cormac Buchanan did just that at Manfeild on Dec 10.
The superstar Southlander scored pole in the Supersport 600 class and went on to win – albeit at times in nail-biting fashion – all three races over the weekend.
The weather mirrored the opening round of the parallel-but-separate Suzuki Series and NZSBK competitions at Taupo, where Saturday’s racing was in the dry but the track was incredibly wet the following day.
The conditions did not hinder 17-year-old Altherm Yamaha Racing Development Team’s Buchanan and he “couldn’t be happier” to have pulled off his goal of mimicking his Taupo success at his main rivals Shane Richardson’s and Rogan Chandler’s home track.
While he had a comfortable win in the first race of 1.5secs over Richardson, Buchanan’s battle with Chandler went down to the wire in the second race.
“I think I could’ve pulled away if I wanted to but the problem was it just felt a bit too risky with the track temperature. I was just waiting until the last lap, because I knew I could get Rogan going into that second-to-last corner going down the back straight and that’s what happened and we got the win,” Buchanan says.
Race 2’s 0.086sec winning margin may have seemed slim but the third race certainly put in perspective just how hard-fought Buchanan’s victories were.
“The last race was a bit more difficult in the wet. We weren’t as strong as Rogan and he knows all the ins and outs of his home track. I didn’t want my streak to go. I wanted to get that sixth victory in a row, so I pulled off what felt like a kamikaze move. It was probably one of the best moves I’ve ever done, so I was really happy.”
It doesn’t get much closer than 0.007secs but it was enough to give Buchanan the result he was looking for as the NZSBK moves to the South Island for the next three rounds. He credited keeping his head, managing his races without getting flustered and the incredible Altherm Yamaha team support for his continued success.
“It’s been great having the whole team behind me. We’ve been giving them some nail-biting races and maybe a heart attack or two but I wouldn’t change this team for anything.”
Altherm Yamaha Racing Team’s Superbike rider Alastair Hoogenboezem finished the round in fourth and holds the same position in the overall championship standings on his Yamaha YZF-R1.
After a positive testing session on Friday, he qualified fourth and was happy with the front row position going into Race 1.
“I came through and finished third. It was good being up with Mitch [Rees] and Ant West, the Aussie and ex-GP rider. He’s got a few good results behind his name so it was good to be hanging out with those guys. I still had a little bit to improve as they got away from me on the last couple of laps,” Hoogenboezem says.
The Altherm Yamaha Racing Team rider felt he was building speed and was looking forward to dry races on Sunday but the sky opened and dumped masses of rain on the Manfeild track. However, Hoogenboezem improved his bike set up and riding in the wet, to claim sixth in Race 2.
A messy final race saw him come into contact with Davey Todd as Mitch Rees crashed out in front of them.
“We got tangled and a few riders got past but I’m glad I didn’t get punted off the track.”
Hoogenboozem was holding onto fourth when the race got red-flagged and finished early.
“Although it’s not the results I wanted, I’m feeling really comfortable in the wet now. I’m closing that gap to what Mitch has got on the rest of the field and with his DNF [in Race 3], it closes everything back up. It is a long championship for everyone. We will see what happens on my old home tracks in the South Island.”
Hoogenboozem congratulated his team mate for “absolutely smashing it” and thanked the Altherm Yamaha team, sponsors and especially Ward Demolition which helped him out at the last minute with tyres.
Yamaha Motor New Zealand’s Motorsport Manager Josh Coppins echoed Hoogenboozem’s sentiments regarding Buchanan’s results.
“It was a great performance by Cormac. Those changing conditions can really be tricky in road racing to get the right set up and manage the race when you are leading the championship like he is. Being unbeaten is very impressive and he has a strong lead, which is pretty exciting.”
“Al improved his performance in the dry and wet. I feel like he will be somewhat content but still looking for more.”
Coppins says he was happy with how the riders’ YZF-R1 and YZF-R6 bikes went and gave brand acknowledgement to Australian rider Ant West who won Race 2 and 3 on the Addicted to Track Yamaha R1.
“Ant won the weekend so a shout out to his Yamaha team and to him. He’s a world-class rider and obviously they did a great job.”
The NZSBK takes a short break over the festive season before the third round is held at Ruapuna Motorsport Park over the first weekend of January (6 and 7).
The Altherm Yamaha team wishes all their sponsors, supporters and fans a wonderful Christmas and looks forward to returning to racing in a month.
NZSBK Championship Round Two Results:
1st Ant West (YZF-R1) – 70
2nd Tony Rees – 53
3rd Mitch Rees – 42
4th Alastair Hoogenboezem (YZF-R1) – 39
1st Cormac Buchanan (YZF-R6) – 76
2nd Rogan Chandler – 56
3rd Luca Durning – 38
NZSBK Championship Standings:
1st Tony Rees – 114
2nd Mitch Rees – 113
3rd Dale Finch – 79
4th Alastair Hoogenboezem (YZF-R1) – 77
1st Cormac Buchanan (YZF-R6) – 152
2nd Shane Richardson – 96
3rd Rogan Chandler – 88