YAMAHA WRAPS UP ITS SUZUKI SERIES WITH RACE WINS ALL-ROUND
After racing two of the three Suzuki International Series’ rounds, the Yamaha Motor New Zealand road racing teams are armed with some race wins, a stack of data and some competitive seat time as they prepare for the New Zealand Superbike Championship’s (NZSBK) first round next month.
Racing at the Manfeild circuit yesterday, both teams' riders all recorded victories in their final hit-out in this series.
Riding in the top-tier Formula One Superbike class Yamaha Racing Team’s (YRT) Alastair Hoogenboezem (Yamaha YZF-R1) retained his lead. The Christchurch rider had a tough first race, getting boxed in after “an average start” and was unable to make his way past fourth. However, he still managed to set the fastest lap of the race.
Fired up for the second 8-lap outing, Hoogenboezem bided his time and pulled off a brilliant pass on the final lap to fly past the chequered flag first.
“I’m so happy with my team for carrying on the way we finished the 2020 season. Over the two Suzuki rounds I had three wins, one pole and my two, new personal best laps time pretty much match the lap records,” Hoogenboezem says.
“Thanks so much to my crew and sponsors for putting such a competitive package under me. I’m looking forward to a little break over Christmas then welcoming the paddock to my home track [Ruapuna] on the 9-10th of January for the start of the New Zealand Superbike Championship.”
Yamaha’s Motorsport Manager Josh Coppins was unable to attend the second Suzuki round near Feilding as he was racing in a local supercross event in Motueka.
He was pleased to hear his star R1 rider had consolidated a positive weekend, as the Yamaha team now takes a break before the first NZSBK round.
“I’m really excited for where Al is at, heading into his most familiar South Island tracks - Ruapuna then Levels - over the January weekends. We’ll get the full Yamaha road racing crew back together and have our crew chief Peter (Red) Fenton, our electronics guy Nigel Friend and mechanics Hank Randall and Nic (Smokey) Bishop on-board, which will allow us to take some more steps forward. If I was his competition, I’d definitely be nervous heading to Al’s home tracks!” Coppins says.
The Yamaha Racing Development Team’s (YRDT) Harry Parker and Cormac Buchanan dominated proceedings in the hotly-contested SuperSport 300 ranks.
Timaru’s Parker described it as “another amazing weekend where we finished in first place again.”
After taking some time on Friday and Saturday getting used to the track and finding the correct suspension set up for race day, he pushed hard in qualifying - going 4 secs faster than last year and claiming pole position in 1min.17.806 secs.
Race one saw the two YRDT team mates vying for the win, with Buchanan getting past Parker on the final laps to claim victory. The 14-year-old Southlander etched his name into the record books in the process with a lap time of 1min.17.828 secs.
Race two provided a tighter tussle with the lead changing hands throughout. However, with the race declared after a red flag incident, Parker and Buchanan were denied the chance to take their battle to the finish line and had to settle for first and second respectively.
“The last couple of weeks have been amazing. I couldn't have asked for a better team and all the amazing support we have been given. I am now leading the championship but I will not be doing the final Cemetery Circuit round. I'm hoping my points are enough to still finish in the top 3 for the Suzuki championship,” Parker says.
In just his second race meeting at the Manfeild circuit, Buchanan was quickly on the pace and loving the dynamics of the fast track.
“It was intense out there at times but we nabbed some great points and managed to secure second in the overall championship standings,” Buchanan said.
“Our Yamaha Racing Team earned pole in every class and that says a lot about the competitive environment we have in our pits. We are all pushing each other to be even faster and that bodes well for NZSBK,” Buchanan says.
Coppins enjoys the way the two YZF-R3 riders are “going really well - bouncing off each other and sharing information. The Supersport 300 is a really strong class, with great results achieved by both guys, so I’m super excited about the season ahead for Harry and Cormac,” he says.
Wellington’s Rogan Chandler had polar opposite results in the two F2 Supersport 600 races.
After setting a blistering 1min.06sec time in qualifying and with his YZF-R6 sporting some new suspension that “worked insanely well,” he got the lead in race one and bought it home.
“In the second race I was doing the same thing and got into a comfy lead. Then I ran a bit of a tight line and got too much of a lean angle and lost the rear coming out in the last corner. It was my fault - one of those crashes that just happens.”
The only Yamaha team member heading to the Suzuki Series’ final round at Wanganui’s Cemetery Circuit, Chandler is still within striking distance of a class win.
Coppins explains that the Yamaha teams are focused on the NZSBK and contested the first two rounds of the Suzuki Series to provide their riders with some racecraft-honing experience.
“Our second R1 rider Rangiora’s Jake Lewis will join Al in the Yamaha Racing Team from Ruapuna onwards. Hopefully he can hit the ground running and get a solid result, starting at his home track.”
“We’ve taken a lot of positives away from the past two weekends and have still got some room for improvements in all areas. We’ll be lining up that last 1% over the coming weeks and I believe Yamaha will be very strong in the NZSBK’s back-to-back South Island rounds,” Coppins concludes.
SUZUKI INTERNATIONAL SERIES ROUND TWO OVERALL:
1st Mitch Rees - 47
2nd Alastair Hoogenboezem (YZF-R1) - 44
3rd Damon Rees - 40
F2 Supersport 600
1st Avalon Biddle - 42
2nd Zak Fuller – 42
3rd Dylan Telford – 36
8th Rogan Chandler (YZF-R6) – 26
1st Harry Parker (YZF-R3) - 48
2nd Cormac Buchanan (YZF-R3) - 47
3rd Luca Durning (YZF-R3) - 40