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Will Pukekohe again be Murph’s Turf?

29 November 2013

Will Pukekohe again be Murph’s Turf?

Greg Murphy’s many fans are hoping that Pukekohe will again become “Murph’s Turf” when the 2013 BNT V8 SuperTourer championship winds up there this weekend.

The circuit gained that nickname when the Kiwi Holden hero won four of the first five V8 Supercar rounds there, and he goes to the final showdown a close second in the championship behind Ant Pedersen and just ahead of Shane Van Gisbergen.

“Pukekohe has been very kind to me over the years and it’s a great place to have the last round,” Murphy, who will again have Australian Jack Perkins as co-driver for this endurance event, said.

“It’s very close between Ant and me, it has been all year. Everyone’s anticipating an exciting decider but there are also drivers out of title contention who will be pushing hard for race wins.

“The two races on Sunday both have refuelling which will throw up some different strategies.”

Murphy’s prowess at Pukekohe is a worry for International Motorsport team owner Lyall Williamson, who runs Pedersen’s Ford Falcon. Williamson is also concerned that Sunday’s two long races will be hard on the tyres and that Pedersen’s Australian co-driver, Chaz Mostert, lacks experience at Pukekohe.

“Tyre management will be critical,” Williamson said. “Murph is equally good and he’s on top of his tyres as well so we’re not going to have anything up our sleeve, we’ve got to be as cunning as he’s going to be because he’s hard to beat at Pukekohe.

“Murph’s the master of Pukekohe and Perkins is real good there as he showed last year.

“The major thing is Chaz has never even seen Pukekohe. We’ll have to give Chaz as much time as possible so he can get on top of Pukekohe, which is a difficult circuit to learn.”

Meanwhile Van Gisbergen is well within striking distance and is very familiar with Pukekohe from his early days in New Zealand, although the circuit is slightly different now. And his co-driver is Alex Davison, also a full-time V8 Supercar driver.

Heading into the final round of the BNT V8 SuperTourers, feature class of the Hankook Super Series, the effective points (discounting each driver’s worst result so far) are: Pedersen 2945, Murphy 2912, Van Gisbergen 2856. A driver who wins all three races will gain 930 points, but anyone who fails to finish a race – one tomorrow of 35 laps and two on Sunday of 70 laps each -- will be completely out of contention.

And as Murphy said, there are plenty of other drivers capable of racing right at the front, including 2012 champion Scott McLaughlin, Lee Holdsworth, Tony D’Alberto, Jonathon Webb, Tim Slade, Nick Percat, Warren Luff, Steve Owen, Daniel Gaunt, Jonny Reid, Craig Baird and John McIntyre, all of whom have raced V8 Supercars this year. Luff, who pairs with McIntyre, won Bathurst with Craig Lowndes.

Refuelling comes into this championship for the first time on Sunday, when each car will have to make at least two pit stops in each race: one to change drivers, one to refuel and possibly change tyres. Refuelling is not permitted during the driver change.

Team strategists will be agonising over the best time to make the pit stops, and whether to change tyres – a slow process in this category, with each wheel held on by five studs.

ENDS

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