Greg Murphy put his name in the history books today when he won the first-ever V8 SuperTourers race at Hampton Downs.
In a thrilling race to kick the series off, around 6000 race fans watched Murphy reel in a fast-starting Andy Booth to win. Surprise pole sitter Kayne Scott was second, showing himself to be a clear title contender after a late start to the series seemed to have little or no effect on his race-day pace.
"To have the first race out of the way is a huge relief and obviously standing on the top step of the podium is very special - and it will remain with me for a very long time,'' Murphy said. "It's awesome to be a part of this and really the result is fantastic for the whole team. It was a great start to the series and a great start for our car and team.''
Murphy caught and passed Booth in fine style after Booth took an early three-second lead. The two-time New Zealand V8s champion's tyres suffered as track-side temperatures hit 41 degrees, losing their edge before half distance and bringing Booth back into the clutches of first Murphy and then Scott, who himself had his mirrors full of a fired up Jonny Reid.
"Unfortunately I cooked the rear tyres, there was a small electrical gremlin and I couldn't hold them out,'' Booth said. "But what an amazing day. It's our first day of V8 SuperTourers and the concept is now proven. I'm rapt to be on the podium for the first race. With three Holdens on the podium, what more do you want?''
Reid's Ford looked one of the stronger cars in the second half of the 20-lap race, and the former A1GP driver made full use of his knowledge of the circuit and his more conservative approach with the tyres to be the man with the pace as the race entered its latter stages. Reid will be a major factor in the longer races on Sunday.
For Murphy and the crowd, though, it was the perfect result. Booth was suffering from a minor misfire affecting the car on the straights and Murphy and then Scott took advantage.
Scott surprised many to start on pole and he was full of praise afterwards for his team in getting the car to such a high standard of performance in a very limited time.
Craig Baird recovered from a lowly starting position to work his way through the field and finish fifth in his Ford. He came into contact with Steve Richards but the wily Baird continued to work his way up the field for a result that would have been a relief to crew chief Gary Pedersen.
Andre Heimgartner became the first driver in the V8 SuperTourer series to receive a drive-through penalty when he bumped Scott McLaughlin's Holden into a spin at the downhill sweeper Barrel 51. McLaughlin recovered and charged back through the field to finish 10th, clocking the fastest lap on the way.
Heimgartner was also quick during his recovery drive, but with the cars so evenly matched, a drive-through was always going to leave him bringing up the rear.
Tomorrow's races are over 25 laps and 35 laps.