CAPTION: It was a breakthrough moment for Invercargill teenager Cormac Buchanan in France at the weekend as he raced his way to fifth place at round three of the Red Bull Rookies Cup at Le Mans. Photo by Andy McGechan,

It was a breakthrough moment for young New Zealander Cormac Buchanan at round three of the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup at Le Mans, in France, at the weekend.

The teenager from Invercargill finished fifth in the second race of two at the weekend, his best result yet in the competition that is designed to grow stars of the future.

He finished a creditable eighth in his first outing at Le Mans on Saturday and he backed that up brilliantly with an astounding fifth place finish on Sunday.

“Well, I was very lucky. I was P11 going into the second to last lap and finished P5 (in race two) so it is the first top five for me. Lucky, but then to finish first, first you have to finish, so I’ll take it,” explained the 16-year-old Kiwi, referring to the five riders ahead of him who fell off near the end of the race.

“The starts this weekend have been really good, I am finally getting back to the way I felt at the end of last year, so I’m really pleased with that, but I just need to work on staying a bit more calm because, when I get in that front group, it gets a bit hectic and I kind of make a lot of mistakes. Then I start losing the group.

“There is still plenty to work on and I am going to train hard for Mugello (venue for round four, in Italy on June 10-11) and get P5 with more merit shall we say.”

Buchanan is now ranked 14th on the 26-rider points table after three rounds, up from 16th before the start of his weekend in France.

There are four more rounds remaining, with the series set to wrap up at Misano, in Italy, on September 9-10.

Buchanan had sealed up both the 600cc Supersport and the Supersport 300cc class titles at the 2023 New Zealand Superbike Championships, that wrapped up at Taupo in March, before driving to Auckland and catching a flight to Europe that same Sunday evening.

The Red Bull Rookies Cup is renowned for releasing new stars into the world of Grand Prix racing, with former rookies now competing with enormous success in all bike categories and competitions.

For six of the past eight seasons, the Moto3 World Champion has been a former Red Bull Rookies Cup rider and the 2020 Cup winner, Spain’s Pedro Acosta, stepped up and won the Moto3 World Championship in his debut season in 2021.

Star French rider Johann Zarco, the inaugural Red Bull Rookies champion and a two-time Moto2 World Champion, continues to impress at the ultimate MotoGP level.

Every year the level of competition has grown and this year’s 17th running of the Red Bull Rookies Cup is again raising the bar.

Credit: Words and photo by Andy McGechan,