A new addition to the iconic Suzuki International Series, the inaugural SuperSport 300 class certainly delivered action in Taupō last weekend.
Invercargill teen Cormac Buchanan claimed pole position - an impressive feat for his first time riding the 3.4 km circuit - clocking a time of 1.41.316 seconds, 0.594 seconds quicker than second-placed Dave Fellows.
As the lights went out for the opening eight-lap stanza, it was Buchanan who got the best start to lead into the first corner ahead of Fellows. Halfway around lap one, the 14-year-old had already established a 0.5 second buffer from the chasing Fellows.
Disaster struck at the start of the second lap when Buchanan lost the front on the exit of turn one. As the bike spun around at the side of the track, the lead was handed to Fellows and promoted Harry Parker to second and Caleb Gilmore to third.
By the end of lap three Fellows had disappeared into the distance, leaving Gilmore and Parker to battle it out for second. With four laps remaining Parker made his move and, after pulling away from Gilmore, was soon hunting Fellows with intent.
While Fellows clung to a slight 0.641 second advantage at the start of the final lap, Parker never relented and closed within a bike length. The drag to the line saw Fellows hold on to secure victory by just 0.068 seconds from Parker. Gilmore rounded out the podium.
Fellows commented on the close finish:
“In hindsight I was probably a little conservative in the braking at the end of the back straight, letting Harry close right up behind me. I crossed the line only a couple of hundredths of a second ahead, phew!"
The second Supersport 300 race got underway in sunny conditions over a shorter race distance of six laps.
Determined to redeem himself, Buchanan piloted his Yamaha YZF-R3 to the holeshot ahead of Parker and Gilmore. At the end of the opening lap, the top trio comprising Buchanan, Parker and Gilmore had notched up a handy gap over the rest of field. By lap three Buchanan had opened up a 1.507-second lead over the chasing pack, which was a gutsy dual between Parker and Gilmore. Halfway around lap three Parker had passed Gilmore for second going into turn 11. He immediately retaliated and re-passed Parker at the end of the back straight to reclaim second. Going into the final lap, Buchanan held a manageable lead of 0.892 seconds over Gilmore and Parker and held it to victory. Despite a credible effort from Parker, Gilmore snatched second.
Commenting on his race win, Buchanan said:
"I was gutted to crash in the first race. I had a good lead and just went into turn one too hot and lost the front. A lesson in patience! Race two was a chance to redeem myself and I led from go to woah which felt unreal.”
After round one of the season, Gilmore and Parker find themselves joint championship leaders on 42pts with Curtis Boyd and Campbell Grayling tied for third on 34pts and Buchanan fifth on 26.
The second round of the Suzuki International Series takes place at Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon, near Feilding, this coming Sunday, 13 December.
Words: Michael Wincott