Cormac takes on European adventure

    Invercargill racer Cormac Buchanan racing at Ruapuna near Christchurch in January.
    Cormac Buchanan at Invercargill Airport on Tuesday ahead of taking off to Europe to compete in the 2021 Redbull MotoGP Rookies Cup.

    MOTORBIKE racer Cormac Buchanan does not want to get his motorbike licence when he turns 16, in just two years’ time.

    Maybe it is because this motorcycle-riding powerhouse could potentially reach up to 240kmh on his supercharged KTMRC250 when he takes part in the Redbull MotoGP Rookies Cup during the next seven months.

    He admits doing a measly 50kmh on a motorbike around the streets of Invercargill would feel like going in slow motion.

    So, it’s hardly surprising he is a bit averse to the idea.

    Buchanan was just 3 years old when he had his first taste of motorised two-wheel excitement when he got his first bike. Although going by his first experience, you would never guess 11 years later, he would be racing on the world stage.

    “The day I got it, Dad started it up and I ran away crying because I didn’t like the noise,” Buchanan said.

    By the age of 7, he was racing on the speedway track. After a few years he had made his way up through the levels, riding the fastest bike possible for a junior and making his name on the circuit.

    When he was 11, he went to Australia to watch MotoGP racing at Phillip Island where seeing the likes of Valentino Rossi racing in real life, provided the motivation for Buchanan to take the next step up the motorcycle racing ladder.

    So in 2018, he made the switch to road racing and, because he was too young to race in New Zealand, went to Australia to compete.

    The same year, he met his now coach Dr Steve Bagshaw, a science researcher who coaches motorcycle speedsters.

    In 2019 he took out the title of New Zealand Supersport 150 champion and travelled to Spain in an attempt to make the cut for the 2020 Rookies Cup but fell just short.

    “Even I don’t think I was ready for Rookies Cup at that time,” he said.

    On his return to New Zealand the focus turned to racing the best he could on a national stage.

    Despite a Covid-19-ridden year cutting the season short, Buchanan’s season was more than impressive in 2020.

    He defended his NZ Supersport 150 title and also took out the 300 title as well.

    When talking about this year’s racing, he can recite every race, every move.

    He is meticulous in his observations of what he did well and what he could do better.

    Despite reaching speeds that would make any 14-year-old’s mother’s hair stand on end, Buchanan says while he’s racing, the sensation for him is completely the opposite.

    “It’s like everything loods fast but it’s actually slow motion.

    “I’ve really only felt like I’ve been going fast once.”

    It is this mentality which Bagshaw said he saw in the young rider and realised he was something special.

    At a race meet in Christchurch, Bagshaw noticed Buchanan was the only rider who changed his helmet cover for each race, “and made no fuss about it”.

    “That shows he knows what he talks about, knows what he’s doing.”

    Buchanan was really coachable, Bagshaw said.

    “That separates the achievers from the rest of them.”

    As Buchanan speaks about his racing he uses the word ‘we’ — it is evident he knows he is not a one-man band. He knows how important the team he has standing alongside him is
    — his coach, parents and, sponsors, in helping him achieve his dreams.

    Buchanan will have to continue with his school work while away. Although he has left behind his mates at James Hargest College in Invercargill, he is enrolled through correspondence school and will have to complete schoolwork in between racing throughout Europe in the Rookies Cup as well as when he competes in-between times for the Microlise Cresswell Racing team in the British Talent Cup.

    Dad Stacey has resigned from his job to accompany his son to Europe while Mum Kate and sister Mikah will stay in Invercargill getting up in the early hours to watch Buchanan race.

    Mikah said she was proud of her brother’s achievements but there was one advantage of him not being around for a while as he was a fussy eater, she said.

    “I’m looking forward to more variety of food.”

    The sacrifices the family have made are huge, and Buchanan is well aware of them, but when talking to Kate and Stacey you get the sense they would do anything possible to ensure their son’s talent realises its full potential.

    “There’s a quote which I stole,” Stacey said.

    “It said ‘maybe it won’t work out but it will be a hell of an adventure seeing if it will’.”

    Now is the chance for Buchanan to experience first-hand, a real taste of what he witnessed in 2018.