Special race meet to help talented rider

Invercargill motorcyclist Cormac Buchanan competes at Ruapuna Raceway, near Christchurch, last weekend. Photo: Aaron Staples Photography

THEY really mean it when they say Southland motorsport is a tightknit community.

In the spirit of Burt Munro, the petrolheads are planning to gather to support the dreams of one of their talented young riders.

A special motorcycling event at Teretonga Park on February 12-13 will both help make up for the cancellation of the Burt Munro Challenge and act as a fundraiser for rising Invercargill star Cormac Buchanan.

The 15-year-old, a two-class national champion, was the only New Zealander in the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup this year and has been invited back next year.

Southland Motorcycling Club president Andy Underhay said Teretonga had been booked for racing as part of the Burt Munro, which the club decided in October to cancel due to uncertainties around Covid-19.

So, a plan was hatched to create an event based on the sprint racing element of the challenge which will feature elite racing in multiple categories as well as entertainment and have-a-go opportunities.

“We’ll make a normal one-day event into a two-day event that is more relaxed, more enjoyable and will fundraise for Cormac at the same time,” Underhay said.

“We’ll pretty much try to have the bulk of what we would normally cover at most of our race meetings, to encourage as many people as possible.

“A lot of people have that week pencilled in for the Burt Munro, so there’s no other scheduled racing around the country, and I reckon we’ll get a really good turnout.”

Yamaha had offered to cover track costs for the weekend, so a healthy cut of the income from competitors, food vendors and auctions could be directed to the young rider’s campaign, Underhay said.

Buchanan, who was accompanied by father Stacey this year and hopes to have all of his family with him in 2022, will have to generate a significant amount of his own funding to return to Europe to continue his rapid rise in the sport.

Helping the club’s poster boy was a no-brainer, Underhay said.

“I saw him three years ago when he was just 12, and him and Stacey came to us and asked if they could go out on the track on his mini bike, with his dad as a chaperone and mentor rider.

“We’re a club that likes to nurture young riders, whether they be motocross or road racing, and we were keen to give him the opportunity.

“Cormac has just excelled. It’s almost like a fairytale.

“Not often do you see riders come along with that natural ability. He has just shown from a very early stage that he’s got something special.

“The sky is the limit. He’s getting better, he’s learning. He is destined for great things, and he will achieve whatever he decides to do.

“We all just want to nurture him. In a way, we’re all jealous, because we wish we could be as good as him.”

Underhay said the club also wanted to support Buchanan’s “lovely” parents, Stacey and Kate.

Buchanan was “humbled” by the support from his hometown club.

“The reality is, I wouldn’t be preparing for my second season racing in Europe if it wasn’t for some incredible people who believe in me and what I’m aiming to achieve,” Buchanan said.

“The support of the Southland Motorcycle Club and Burt Munro Challenge has been a massive part of that.”

Buchanan said Teretonga was a “wicked track” and the February event would be an ideal way to prepare for the New Zealand superbike championships in March.

He has also been digesting the news he is one of just six people this year – from 700 applicants – to be awarded a $5000 grant in the latest round of the MTF Finance Future Legends Scholarship.

“New Zealand has such talented athletes coming through the ranks of all sports so I am proud to receive this scholarship from MTF and really stoked for motorcycling to be recognised as well.”