Motorsport: Thumbs up for new-look Hampton Downs

By Dale Budge at Hampton Downs

The new section of the Hampton Downs race track has been given the big thumbs up from Kiwi racing legend Greg Murphy.

The new 1km addition to the North Waikato track has been put through its paces for the first time this morning as the Australian GT cars have completed their first official practice for the weekend's Hampton Downs 101.

"I liked it in the road car stuff that I have been doing ," Murphy tells herald.co.nz.

"In a race it is great. I really like it.

"People are complaining about bumps and all sorts of stuff but I'm not really noticing it. It has a few bumps but it isn't that bad.

"The shape of it is really good.

"The new turn two, three, four complex is quite tricky but in short very enjoyable to drive. It is quite technical.

"The other bit - which they call the Double Bastard - is really tricky but I actually find it quite challenging.

"The whole thing is amazing.

"It is awesome to drive in one of these cars. It is really suited to a GT car."

The four-time Bathurst champion stepped away from the Supercars series in 2014 but has made a comeback of sorts for the Hampton Downs 101 and the Highlands 101 in a fortnight to partner up with track owner Tony Quinn in the Aston Martin Vantage GT3.

"It is very different to other race cars I've driven," Murphy explains.

"GT cars with all the technological advances that they have got in them with the traction and ABS and all that stuff makes them not easy but you don't have to concentrate so much in certain areas that you would if you were driving a Supercar.

"Aerodynamically and corner speed wise they are way higher.

"It is just a contrast."

Another four-time Bathurst champion found the new addition to the Hampton Downs circuit more challenging.

Veteran racer Steven Richards had a moment mid-way through the first session

"It has caught me out once. I ended up in the gravel," Richards says.

"I was pressing on; I had a lose in the rear and flicked it back the other way and I went across the road into the gravel.

"It is probably a bit tighter than I thought it would be.

"It has some character to it. There are a couple of really tricky sections."

Tony D'Alberto and Ash Samadi were the quickest in the opening session with a lap of 1:30.84s in their Audi R8. Another Audi of Greg Taylor and Nathan Antunes was second fastest while James and Theo Koundouris were third also in an Audi.

- NZ Herald

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