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V8 star Murphy chasing first title in 17 years

Media release from BNT V8 SuperTourers

Thursday August 29

V8 star Murphy chasing first title in 17 years

Greg Murphy heads into this weekend’s V8 SuperTourer meeting at Taupo in line for his first championship title since he can’t remember when.

The Kiwi V8 hero leads the 2013 BNT SuperTourer championship by a useful 208 points from Ant Pedersen with Taupo being the fourth and final round of the sprint series.

The overall championship is divided into two series, the sprint races and then the endurance races starting at Hampton Downs at the end of September. Each series carries its own title.

Murphy appeared flummoxed when asked about the last time he had won a series.

“Oh that’s going back to the nineties, in a Formula Holden or something like that, the Gold Star I think it was probably,” he said.

Murphy’s autobiography, Murph’s Law, shows that he won the Gold Star title in 1994 as top Kiwi in the Formula Holden series although – despite winning five of the six races – he finished second overall to Australian Paul Stokell. Then in 1996 with the Holden Racing Team he won the Mobil Sprints Series, run over six races at Pukekohe and the Wellington street circuit.

From then till this year Murphy has been full-time in V8 Supercars, twice finishing second in the championship.

However he is relaxed at the prospect of adding another title to his CV.

“To be honest I don’t look at it as two series, I look at it as one anyway,” the Holden racer said. “To be the points leader at the end of this round is what the goal is, and if I’m lucky enough to pick up a little extra title as part of that well so be it.”

At Taupo the experienced Murphy is expecting more tough competition from Kiwi young guns like Pedersen, Shane Van Gisbergen and Scott McLaughlin. Van Gisbergen and McLaughlin have both won V8 Supercar races this year.

“I know what it takes to be successful in this sport,” he said. “I enjoy the challenge, I enjoy racing with those guys, Scott and Ant and Shane and all that, they’re competitive guys so it’s good.”

Pedersen, a 25-year-old accountant based in Hamilton, has continued his run of good results in recent years to run a strong second in the series, 238 points ahead of fellow Ford driver Van Gisbergen.

“I like to think we are getting on top of our game,” Pedersen, whose father Paul won New Zealand championships in both TraNZam and NZV8s, said. “Last year we were sixth and this year we could potentially win it.

“We have to go out there and win the weekend. There’s a lot of weighting given to the points for that last feature race so if Murphy doesn’t have a good weekend – you don’t wish it upon him – if for some reason something crops up I’ve just got to worry about maximising our points.

“I have an ambition to race V8 Supercars in the main-game championship full-time and emulate what Scott and Shane and Fabian {Coulthard] and Greg and all the other Kiwis have done.”

Van Gisbergen, in his debut V8 SuperTourers season, says he is now ready to push hard for victory. “We had a couple of car issues to start with and it took me a little while to get the hang of the car but we’re there now,” he said.

Fourth-placed Daniel Gaunt is switching cars for the weekend. The former Toyota Racing Series and Porsche GT3 champion started the season planning to share the Tasman team’s Ford with fellow Aucklander Andrew Waite, each racing two sprint rounds and then pairing up for the endurance races.

However Gaunt ended up doing the first three rounds as former V8 Utes champion Waite was carrying an injury. Now Gaunt will be able to contest the full championship as, while Waite drives the Tasman car this weekend, he is moving to the Ford normally raced by Craig Baird.

Australian-based Baird was forced to miss the meeting because an Asian GT series he is contesting changed a date to clash with the New Zealand event.

Young Christchurch driver Richard Moore has his Holden fifth in the championship, a fine performance as he has a lot less top-level experience than his rivals.

McLaughlin won the championship last year but is down in ninth place because of atrocious luck at the first two rounds. He certainly has the speed to run his Holden at the front at Taupo and climb up the points table.

The meeting sees qualifying on Saturday and three championship races on Sunday.

Top-10 points are: Murphy 1840, Pedersen 1632, Van Gisbergen 1394, Gaunt 1335, Moore 1042, Andre Heimgartner (Holden) 1014, Paul Manuell (Holden) 940, John McIntyre (Ford) 896, McLaughlin 791, Ash Walsh (Australia, Holden) 766.


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