Cormac Buchanan says he is ready to do New Zealand proud when he steps up to the Red Bull Rookies Cup later this year.
The 14-year-old Southlander is gunning to fulfil his dream of becoming a MotoGP world champion. This year, he kick starts his career aspirations with a gig on the global stage.
Buchanan has been punching above his age range in domestic racing since switching from speedway bikes to circuit racing, a move motivated by watching Marc Marquez and Valentino Rossi over in Australia.
“I think it’s in my genes as my dad has always raced bikes,” Buchanan told Velocity News. “I started racing speedway and loved that, winning a few titles along the way.
“I made the switch to road racing after going to the Phillip Island MotoGP and seeing guys like Rossi and Marquez tearing it up out there. I decided trackside I wanted to do it and it’s been one heck of a ride so far.”
In 2019, Buchanan was crowned the New Zealand Supersport 150 champion.
Later that year, he was invited to partake in the Red Bull Rookies trial in Spain. He progressed to the final stage only to miss out on the spot on the full-time grid.
However, this time around, the young Kiwi has secured a place in the championship, becoming the first New Zealand rider in the category’s history.
The Red Bull Rookies Cup is the first step en route to MotoGP, with riders graduating to Moto3, then Moto2 and finally a coveted ride on a premier Grand Prix bike.
For Buchanan, the opportunity means the world.
“It meant everything for me because being a Red Bull Rookie was one of my biggest goals since I started road racing in 2019,” Buchanan said.
“I say it was a dream come true, but it has always been part of the plan because it’s such an important step in my career.
“My coach Steve Bagshaw first sent a rider to Rookies Cup trials 12 years ago, so I was proud to achieve this for him as well by being the first rider to be selected from New Zealand. And my family were stoked for me.
“I want to be a MotoGP World Champion. That is why this opportunity is so massive for me.
“It will give me a chance to compete against the world’s best junior riders on some of the most iconic circuits in the world as part of the MotoGP paddock.
“The step up from racing here in New Zealand is going to be massive but I’m excited for the challenges ahead and prepared to work extremely hard to make my goals a reality.”
As for flying the New Zealand flag, Buchanan says the responsibility that comes with being the first Kiwi rider selected for the Rookies Cup makes him incredibly proud.
“Being the first Kiwi selected, I feel like I have a responsibility to create a pathway for other riders from New Zealand and really show what can be achieved.
“I’m proud to be representing New Zealand and also follow in the footsteps of some absolute legends of our sport – riders like four-time world champion Hugh Anderson who I got to spend time with recently. That was inspirational.”
Buchanan says he gets his most encouragement from his father, Stacey.
“My biggest inspiration is probably my dad. He’s had my back 100 per cent of the way and believes in me.
“My coach Steve Bagshaw has also been a big influence, teaching me the right skills and how to mentally prepare. I call them my two papas and they have both made a lot of sacrifices for me so I can race.”
Looking at the current MotoGP field, Buchanan says he aims to emulate incumbent world champion Joan Mir’s career.
“I can’t go past Joan Mir. He’s a former Red Bull Rookie who is now MotoGP World Champion.
“I reckon that would be pretty darn cool to do. Joan proved consistency is vital to success and that’s something I always strive for.”
The first round of the 2021 Red Bull Rookies Cup is scheduled to be at the Portimao circuit in Portugal on April 17.
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