Motorsport: Mending Murph on going back to Pukekohe

By Eric Thompson

Greg Murphy says he is 'mobile' after his most recent surgery stemming from a nasty crash during qualifying at Adelaide's Clipsal 500 in March. Photo / Getty Images
Greg Murphy says he is 'mobile' after his most recent surgery stemming from a nasty crash during qualifying at Adelaide's Clipsal 500 in March. Photo / Getty Images

Return to the good old days beckons, and Murphy's keen.

After much to-and-froing, it would appear the V8 Supercars New Zealand round of the championship will be going back to Pukekohe.

Some see this as a backward step and believe the event should have gone to New Zealand's newest international circuit Hampton Downs.

For others, returning the big bangers to their Kiwi spiritual home at the foothill of the Bombays is the right and proper move.

There is also a faction which thinks Auckland ratepayers shouldn't be subsidising a foreign championship that comes here only once a year.

That argument is a bit weak considering local and national governments are happy to chuck money at all manner of things from soccer matches to pop concerts, and fund obscure sports, which in a global sense nobody cares about.

Motorsport is the second most sport watched in the world and to have a certified FIA recognised championship in New Zealand every year is a must if the sport is to grow.

When the V8 Supercars were at Pukekohe, Kiwi motor racing legend Greg Murphy owned the place, winning four of the six times the event visited the rack.

Murphy's had a few lean years of late, and while he likes the idea of the round going back to Pukekohe, he's more interested in the fact that the championship will still have a presence in New Zealand.

Driven caught up with Murphy to check on how his recent back surgery is coming along and his thoughts on the Pukekohe announcement.

"The back recovery is going really well and the doctor is very pleased with the progress," he said.

"I'm mobile now and even driving and getting around. Things are ahead of schedule so it's all good."

It's good news that Murphy's back is on the mend but there's no word on when he might be back in race car. However, the V8 Supercars are going back to Pukekohe and Murphy suggests it's a bit of full circle going to where it all started in New Zealand.

"It's bizarre really, knowing we're to be racing where we began in New Zealand.

"The experiment in Hamilton unfortunately wasn't what we all thought it would be and we're back to where it all started and was a big success.

"If Supercars has confirmed a race back in New Zealand and it's at Pukekohe so be it. It'll be nice going back to somewhere I had a lot of success, but things have changed a lot since I was last there.

"The important thing though is that the focus is on having a V8 Supercars round of the championship in New Zealand."

The Auckland Council has said it has budgeted around $10 million over the five years of the V8 Supercars contract.

Spending that amount of money on an overseas venture has raised a few eyebrows considering a new V8 category, V8 SuperTourers, is trying to gain traction at the moment in its inaugural year.

Some would say it would be better if the money were put into a domestic series, not necessarily SuperTourers, but a New Zealand series at least.

Says Murphy: "It's an interesting thought. I fully support the SuperTourers and I think it's the future of motorsport in New Zealand. I suppose there are a few difference in the series, where V8 Supercars is well established and has been very successful for a long time now.

"It's proven entity and an international event coming to New Zealand. The SuperTourers on the other hand is just a domestic series.

"I've got a foot in each camp obviously, and at heart I'm a race car driver who wants to race, and as long as I'm in Supercars I want to race in New Zealand.

"There's room for both."

What has to be remembered is that the V8 Supercar event and is watched all over the world and has an international reputation as a great race category.

SuperTourers on the other hand, is a local series in its first year.

So if money is to be spent it makes sense for it to go where the exposure is the most.

"In a perfect world you'd want some help for a growing series and good backing for a well established hugely popular championship [V8 Supercars]," said Murphy.

- NZ Herald

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