Four-time Bathurst winner Greg Murphy knows first-hand what difference a good co-driver makes at places like Sandown and Bathurst and he has labeled fellow Kiwi Earl Bamber a star after his stunning debut last week.
Bamber served as co-driver to Supercars Championship leader Shane van Gisbergen at Sandown in the former's first hit-out in the series and he didn't disappoint, helping the Red Bull Holden to second place behind teammates Jamie Whincup and Paul Dumbrell.
A few eyebrows were raised when it was announced that Bamber, a two-time Le Mans winner and world endurance champion, would partner one of the championship favourites in this year's Pirtek Endurance Cup events.
Murphy, who works as a television commentator these days, said a few around the series had pondered whether the move to appoint a category rookie was risky one for Van Gisbergen.
He said it was clear Van Gisbergen knew just how good a driver Bamber is and was ready for anyone to challenge him before racing commenced at Sandown.
"You could tell he was ready on the offensive and ready to attack anyone who said anything different," Murphy told The Herald. "At the end of the day the statistics said that there were still question marks. Earl has never driven at Sandown – he had one day and one half hour session at Winton in a Supercar so there was reason to wonder whether it would work.
"He is a professional race car driver and a brilliant driver so what happened on the weekend I don't think is a surprise at all.
"He performed and drove that car brilliantly but that is what he does around the world and why Porsche employs him."
Murphy was impressed with just how quickly Bamber adapted – immediately asserting himself as one of the quickest co-drivers in the field. He produced a flawless drive in the race itself and handed the car over to Van Gisbergen in great shape.
"That is what I assumed he would do but there is always the chance that things don't fall into place for many reasons," Murphy said.
"Earl was fantastic. He didn't let anything get in the way, he didn't show any nervousness and he did a professional job."
The strong showing at Sandown lifts Van Gisbergen 55 points clear of fellow New Zealander Scott McLaughlin in the overall series standings.
Bamber's performance at Sandown has made Murphy rank the Van Gisbergen/Bamber combination as a joint favourite, with Sandown champs Whincup and Dumbrell, to win at Bathurst in a fortnight.