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Greg Murphy is a V8 champion again

Media release from BNT V8 SuperTourers

Sunday 1 September

Greg Murphy is a V8 champion again

Greg Murphy claimed his first title in 17 years as he came through a day of crashes and controversy at Taupo’s Gull 250 meeting, fourth round of the BNT V8 SuperTourers championship.

Murphy retained his points lead, despite copping a drive-through penalty in the final race, to claim the sprint series title for Holden from Ford rivals Ant Pedersen and Shane Van Gisbergen.

Van Gisbergen took the round victory after a fantastic drive in the final race, coming from last to take second behind Andy Booth’s Holden.

Murphy eclipsed some much younger rivals, including full-time V8 Supercar drivers Van Gisbergen and Scott McLaughlin, over the four-round sprint series but said he did not feel he had proved a point.

“We have respect for one another,” he said. “We laugh it up about the age thing.

“The great thing about this series is that everybody‘s in with a chance because the equipment is equal, it’s a control series. But you’ve still got to be in the right car with the right team to do the job.”

The Kiwi hero’s last title came in 1996 when, driving for the Holden Racing Team, he won the Mobil Sprint Series which took in races at Pukekohe and the Wellington street circuit. He twice finished second in the V8 Supercars championship, and four times won the classic Bathurst event.

This year he does not have a full-time Supercar drive but joins the Holden Racing Team as a co-driver for Bathurst and two other events.

Murphy started the weekend with a comfortable lead over Pedersen and retained it with finishes of seventh, fourth and 10th.

The final race started in chaos with several cars caught up in chain-reaction collisions off the start line, which started when pole-sitter Van Gisbergen was slow away. Defending champion McLaughlin was among those eliminated.

Van Gisbergen restarted at the tail of the field and charged right through to second. “Passing everybody was pretty cool,” he said.

Nelson driver John McIntyre led early but was forced out when Murphy spun his Ford round and Andre Heimgartner hit him, causing extensive damage. That earned Murphy his penalty and later he publicly apologised to McIntyre.

Pedersen won the second race and was in contention in race three till he copped a drive-through penalty because he had cut across the grass while passing McIntyre at the end of the main straight.

Van Gisbergen won race one just ahead of McLaughlin and Heimgartner.

McLaughlin was the big loser of the day. After qualifying fastest yesterday for today’s first two races, he lost race one when his Holden started misfiring near the end and in race two he took a big hit at the first corner. Simon Evans was penalised for that collision.

Through all the confusion in race three came former NZV8 champion Booth, driving fast and sensibly to record his first victory in SuperTourers. “We had led 60 or 70 laps [in earlier races] without getting a win so it’s fantastic to get this win,” the Aucklander said.

Booth had also finished third in race two, behind Pedersen and McIntyre, after withstanding huge pressure from Murphy. He finished second for the round, behind Van Gisbergen and ahead of Pedersen.

The overall BNT V8 SuperTourers championship now continues with three endurance races.

 For further information please call Bernard Carpinter, 0274-528 or Mike Marsden, 021-560-075

BNT V8 SuperTourers championship, round four, Taupo

Race one, 14 laps: 1 Shane Van Gisbergen (Auckland) Ford; 2 Scott McLaughlin (NZ/Australia) Holden; 3 Andre Heimgartner (Auckland) Holden; 4 John McIntyre (Nelson) Ford; 5 Ash Walsh (Australia) Holden; 6 Daniel Gaunt (Auckland) Ford; 7 Daniel Gaunt (Auckland) Ford; 8 Simon Evans (Auckland) Holden; 9 Ant Pedersen (Hamilton) Ford; 10 Mitch Cunningham (Auckland) Ford.

Race two: 1 Pedersen; 2 McIntyre; 3 Booth; 4 Murphy; 5 Richard Moore (Christchurch) Holden; 6 Heimgartner; 7 Van Gisbergen; 8 Gaunt; 9 McLaughlin; 10 Dominic Storey (Auckland) Ford.

Race three: 1 Booth; 2 Van Gisbergen; 3 Evans; 4 Paul Manuell (Pukekohe) Holden; 5 Moore; 6 Angus Fogg (Auckland) Holden; 7 Tim Edgell (Auckland) Holden; 8 Heimgartner; 9 Eddie Bell (Christchurch) Ford; 10 Murphy.

Championship points: 1 Murphy 2269; 2 Pedersen 2095; 3 Van Gisbergen 2015; 4 Gaunt 1642; 5 Heimgartner 1470; 6 Moore 1361; 7 McIntyre 1309; 8 Manuell 1220; 9 McLaughlin 1197; 10 Booth 1068.

Detailed report:

Race one

The first race started with a kerfuffle at turn one and was decided by another kerfuffle at turn 11 (the old sweeper) on the final lap.

Pole winner Scott McLaughlin emerged from the tight turn one in the lead but Daniel Gaunt and Greg Murphy, who had qualified second and fourth respectively, both got pushed to the outside of the track and lost places. “I got pushed hard,” Aucklander Gaunt said. “I’m not sure who it was. I couldn’t turn the car; I got pushed past the corner.”

This fracas allowed Shane Van Gisbergen, starting from third on the grid, to move his Ford up one place and start chasing fellow V8 Supercar star McLaughlin. But McLaughlin’s Holden had extra speed and the 20-year-old Kiwi edged away, while Van Gisbergen found himself under attack from team-mate Andre Heimgartner, the Auckland teenager driving a Holden.

Aussie Ash Walsh (Holden) held fourth ahead of Nelson’s John McIntyre (Ford), Gaunt (Ford) and Murphy (Holden). The order remained the safe after a brief safety-car period and McLaughlin again pulled away from the field. Heimgartner again pressured Van Gisbergen and Murphy closed on Gaunt but was unable to find a way past. McIntyre closed on Walsh, whose car was misbehaving on right-hand corners, and eventually pulled off a pass.

McLaughlin seemed to have the race in the bag. “I was cruising,” he said. “I could have pushed a lot harder but I was looking after the tyres.”

But then his car slowed and on the final lap the first three were nose-to-tail. Going into the sweeping turn 11 Van Gisbergen tried to go round the outside of McLaughlin – whose car was then unsettled by contact from Heimgartner. “I was lucky to hold on to it – I was very close to spinning,” McLaughlin said.

While McLaughlin fought to control his car Van Gisbergen was able to put the power down better coming out of the corner and he seized the lead and the victory. McLaughlin was able to hold on to second, just ahead of Heimgartner. The problem with McLaughlin’s car was a faulty gear-selector sensor which made the engine misfire.

Heimgartner set a new lap record. “The car speed was good,” he said. “But it’s hard to pass on this circuit and since Shane is my team-mate I didn’t want to do anything silly.”

Race two

Sensation on turn one – pole-winner Scott McLaughlin spins round in a cloud of tyre smoke after getting hit from behind by Simon Evans. Fortunately the pack all manage to avoid him while he is stationary on the track, and he is able to restart in last position. Evans later received a drive-through penalty.

Ant Pedersen had made a great start from the outside of the front row and led narrowly into turn one. He also received a hit as McLaughlin’s car was pushed into his, but he was able to keep control and seize the lead. McIntyre emerged from the turn-one melee in second place but gradually fell back from the leader. The pair held those positions all race, though McIntyre narrowed the gap towards the end.

“We’d had a brake issue all weekend, and that hurt us in the first qualifying session,” Pedersen said. “I just pinned my ears back and didn’t worry about what was happening behind. I wanted to established a gap and manage it, and tried to drive smoothly and precisely. Towards the end I just wanted to avoid risks.”

McIntyre was pleased with his second-place finish. “I wouldn’t say the car is the best we’ve ever had but it was very good and very raceable, which is what you need. I was trying to keep the pressure on Ant but our tyres went away, they were gone towards the end.”

Booth held third place early on, followed by Van Gisbergen and Murphy. It soon became clear that neither Van Gisbergen nor his team-mate Heimgartner had the car speed they had enjoyed in race one. As the race went on Van Gisbergen dropped back, getting passed by Murphy, Heimgartner and young Christchurch driver Richard Moore (Holden). Evans passed Heimgartner but then had to come in for his penalty.

Murphy caught Booth and put intense pressure on him for many laps, but Booth’s heroic defence earned him the final podium position. Moore also passed Heimgartner to gain fifth, while Van Gisbergen came in seventh after withstanding strong pressure from Gaunt.

Race three

The carnage started even before the first corner as Van Gisbergen made a slow getaway from pole position. “The red light went out and I didn’t go but everyone else did,” he said.

The concertina effect behind resulted in multiple collisions which eliminated the unfortunate McLaughlin, Walsh, Gaunt and Dominic Storey and caused lesser damage to some other cars. Van Gisbergen went off the track but eventually rejoined and the ensuing safety-car period enabled him to catch up to the rear of the survivors.

McIntyre led till Pedersen outbraked him at the end of the main straight – and had to cut across the grass to make the next corner. Shortly afterwards McIntyre went out when Murphy nudged him into a spin at turn one and Heimgartner hit McIntyre’s Falcon hard.

Then Murphy and Pedersen received both received drive-through penalties, Murphy for hitting McIntyre and Pedersen for not allowing McIntyre back in front after the pass on the grass. Pedersen lamented that he had not had enough time to redress the issue, because of McIntyre’s exit from the race. Murphy publicly apologised to McIntyre at the prize-giving.

That left Booth with a sizeable lead – around 10 seconds – which he maintained to the end, to his great delight. “We had led 60 or 70 laps [in earlier races] without getting a win so it’s fantastic to get this win,” he said.

During this time Van Gisbergen made a fantastic charge from the back of the field right through to second. “Passing all those cars was pretty cool,” he said. Richard Moore crossed the line third but a 10-second penalty for misbehaviour at the start dropped him to fifth, with Evans third and Paul Manuell fourth.

Van Gisbergen gained the round victory, earning him the Ashley Stichbury Memorial Trophy, presented by Ashley’s son Zac. “I was a fan of Ashley’s so this is cool,” Van Gisbergen said. Booth was second for the round, ahead of Pedersen, Heimgartner and Murphy.

ENDS

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