Motorsport: Murph locks on 'strong' NZ class

By Eric Thompson

Eric Thompson talks to Kiwi star as he focuses on local competition

Greg Murphy and Scott McLaughlin do battle in the New Zealand V8 SuperTourers. Photo / Geoff Ridder
Greg Murphy and Scott McLaughlin do battle in the New Zealand V8 SuperTourers. Photo / Geoff Ridder

Long-time stalwart of V8 racing, and a four-time Bathurst winner to boot, Greg Murphy is back in New Zealand this weekend to see if he can seal the inaugural V8 SuperTourers championship - and isn't holding back on what he sees as problems with the series.

The last race is being held at Ruapuna and Murphy, with sometime fellow V8 Supercars driver Jack Perkins, are in a battle for the championship trophy.


Murphy's been through a few tough seasons in V8 Supercars but this year has been a doozy. Not only did an injury he picked up at the opening round of the Aussie series cause him to miss a number of races, he and the car have never really got going.

"There's nothing enjoyable or productive about racing in Australia at the moment," said Murphy. "Since getting back in the car back in September, I may as well not have even been there. Back here in New Zealand racing in something everyone else has got is much more enjoyable.

"It was neat to be able to be competitive at Pukekohe and race against guys that are doing a good job in Australia. They're all beating me at the moment in Australia hands down and it's quite embarrassing.

"But when I come back to New Zealand and race in a category where the rules and regs are very strict and strong, you're able to compete and beat them. That's satisfying for me in one respect but the Australian side of the business still hurts."

Racing back in New Zealand in a car that is strictly controlled has been a great fillip for Murphy. He has been able to show that the pace, skill and ability are all still there, and despite scoring no points in two rounds he didn't race, he's in with a chance to win the championship.

He and co-driver Perkins were on fire at the last round, with two wins and a second place.

"We gave everyone a pretty big head start missing two rounds but that's the way it goes," he said. "Scotty [McLaughlin] and I both have zero rounds to drop so we're in similar situations.

"For me he needs to have a weekend like he did [a DNF, fifth and seventh] at the beginning of the series, but I doubt that's going to happen. He's driving really, really nicely and following on from Pukekohe Jack and I know our biggest competition will be from Scott."

Though the new Kiwi V8 series has provided some great, close racing, it hasn't been without its issues. All new things have their teething problems, but the V8 SuperTourers have had a particularly painful introduction.

The series has merit and has proved to be popular with motor racing fans. Early on, Murphy realised the new category could be the catalyst to reinvigorate V8 racing in New Zealand. He does, though, have a few reservations about how the process has been gone about and is keen to make sure the momentum continues.

"Technically there are a lot of very clever people in the field and they need to have more of an input into how the cars work," he said.

"Currently they're not being allowed to and it's important as franchise holders, and the ones turning up and paying the money to race these cars, had a say in the technical side of things.

"It's cost a lot of people a lot of money unnecessarily because of certain decisions that have been made, which haven't been the right ones.

"They're not far away, but there are a few things we need to iron out and get on top of. Once we do that the class will be unbeatable.

"The powers that be at SuperTourers need to listen to the people who have been doing this for a long time. The problems are easily fixed and it's time we all worked together as a cohesive group and stopped making stupid mistakes."

Murphy will be a free agent at the end of the V8 Supercars' 2012 season having been released by Kelly Racing.

"It's all up in the air and I have no idea what's going to happen next year," he said. "For a lot of reasons it's been a catastrophe this year. I don't know what I've got to do."

It's been a strange old week in V8 racing on both sides of the Tasman, and at the time of going to press to the fate of Shane van Gisbergen remains a mystery.

Murphy has had a long and distinguished career in V8 racing and seen just about all manner of things, but even he's at a loss over the van Gisbergen situation: "The world's gone upside-down dude. I have absolutely no understanding about all that."

- NZ Herald

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