2021 New Zealand Superbikes Championship – Taupo Final
Images by Aaron Staples Photography
14-year old Invercargill superkid Cormac Buchanan reclaimed his 2020 Supersport 150 crown with an unbeaten domination of the final three races over the weekend at the Taupo final, before securing the Supersport 300 title with a staggering 98-point lead over 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, sharing “He would be the youngest rider in recent history who has won two titles in a year.”
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 0.1-seconds to Parker.
Cormac Buchanan won all three Supersport 150 races, with Tyler King runner up in the first, followed by Samuel Guthrie. Races 2 and 3 saw those minor placings swapped, with Guthrie claiming runner up, regulating King to third.
While not quite as impressive as his Supersport 300 lead, Buchanan won the Supersport 150 title on 203-points, to second placed Samuel Guthrie’s 156-points, with Georgia Elvin third on 103-points.
Supersport 300 saw a similar scene with Buchanan undefeated across all three races. Harry Parker gave him a run for this money in the first race, with Dave Fellows a more distant third. Race 2 was closer run with Fellows just 0.368 off Buchanan, while Blayes Heaven was third, also in close contention.
The third and final SS300 race was Parker and Fellows battling for a distant second, over four-seconds off winner Buchanan.
Buchanan won the Supersport 300 title ahead of Harry Parker and Dave Fellows, with a 98-point gap between first and second, while Fellows was just eight points off second.
“I will remember this for the rest of my life – it’s an historic moment and I will treasure it. 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 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.
Cormac Buchanan – P1
“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.”
Harry Parker – P2 (SS300)
“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. Massive thanks to Steve Lloyd, my mechanic Brent, my dad Steve and the YRDT.”
Josh Coppins shared his sense of satisfaction with the 2021 season, all-round.
Josh Coppins – YRT Team Manager
“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. We had really solid brand representation under YRT. 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.”
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.
Mitch Rees took the first Superbike race win of the weekend, with Hoogenboezem runner up and Damon Rees completing the podium. The second race saw the same top two, however Richie Dibben was third. Finishing the season on a high note Hoogenboezem took the final race win, ahead of Mitch and Damon Rees respectively.
Mitch Rees won the New Zealand Superbike championship on 168-points, with brother Damon runner up on 153.5. Hoogenboezem was third on 144-points.
“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.”
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.
Lewis hasn’t raced in Taupo since 2019, “I 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 ran 6-6-7 for the weekend and finishes the season on 111-points in fourth.
Roger Chandler won the first race, with Dale Finch just 0.138s behind across the line. Third placed Zak Fuller trailed the lead by 0.406s. Race 2 again saw Chandler dominant, taking a clear win from Fuller and Finch. Chandler was a DNF in Race 3, with Fuller taking the win ahead of Finch and Luca Durning after a restart.
The final standings saw Finch take the Supersport 600 championship title, on 209-points, to Chandler’s 170, a gap that wouldn’t have been bridged even with a race win on Chandler’s part. Zak Fuller was third overall on 135-points.
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.”
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