Bathurst: Murph's lap of the gods

By Eric Thompson

Greg Murphy racing at Sydney during the V8 Supercar championship in 2003. Photo / Robert Cianflone
Greg Murphy racing at Sydney during the V8 Supercar championship in 2003. Photo / Robert Cianflone

In the modern era of Australian V8 Supercars racing, Greg Murphy has been the benchmark for Kiwi drivers wanting to make it in tin-top racing.

In the days when the V8 Supercars came to Pukekohe Murphy owned the place, winning all but three of the weekends it was held at the South Auckland track.

Just to make sure there was no doubt about his talent, Murphy took it to the Aussies on their own turf - Mt Panorama and the Bathurst 1000.

It only took the Kiwi two goes (1994 when he finished 23rd and 1995 when he DNF) to get his eye in before notching up his first win in 1996. He went on to win in 1999, 2003 and 2004 to sit fifth on the all-time winners' list.

More impressive, though, especially if you look at his performance at the Great Race, is since 1996 Murphy has finished outside the top 10 only once - 13th in 2002 - if he makes it to the finish line (four DNFs).

To stamp his authority at the annual event, in 2003 Murphy finessed his car around the 6.2km circuit during the top 10 shoot-out in a majestic 2.06.8594sec.

That record stood until Craig Lowndes posted 2.06.8012sec in 2010.

When Murphy set his time he was 1.0962sec faster than second qualifier John Bowe.

While capable of pulling one out of the bag on the day, Murphy's seasons of late have not been anything to write home about, and by his own admission this year in particular has been "s**t".

To relive that day in 2003, Driven spoke with Murphy days before this year's Great Race to explain that magic lap.

"On that weekend I had an immense amount of confidence in the car and just knew what the car was capable of," said Murphy on his way to the track.

"It just made me want to push harder and harder.

"On that day ... I just pushed as hard as I dared and left nothing on the table. That was basically it. It all came together and I only made that one mistake coming out of the dipper, which was a bit costly. But other than that it was, I suppose, a near-perfect lap.

"I don't think there was anything else there and I doubt I could've found any more time. It was just one of those moments when it all came together and you feel like you're a little invincible in that respect.

"I never expected it was going to be anything like that. I thought it was just going to be good enough to beat the guy who had the fastest time at that point.

"Fortunately it was good enough to beat him, but it was faster than anyone thought possible at the time. That's what was special about it.

"It also meant so much to so many people and I still get the odd pat on the back from people who want to talk about it. It meant a lot to me as well, but I didn't think it would have such an effect on so many fans."

If you get a chance go and watch the lap and you'll hear the race commentators sum it up succinctly.

Matty White's first words when Murphy crossed the line were, "That is insane," followed by Neil Crompton saying, "Uncharted territory by anyone on the mountain. Nobody has ever gone under the sevens. Take a bow Greg Murphy, that was something very special in the history of Bathurst. The most incredible lap you're ever going to see".

Enough said, really.

- NZ Herald

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