Bathurst: Holden Racing Team preview

HOLDEN ACES RECKON MURPHY'S BATHURST LAP RECORD LIKELY TO BE TOPPED Holden's V8 Supercar stars agree on one thing heading into this weekend's Supercheap Auto 1000 at Bathurst that Greg Murphy's qualifying lap record of ...

HOLDEN ACES RECKON MURPHY'S BATHURST LAP RECORD LIKELY TO BE TOPPED

Holden's V8 Supercar stars agree on one thing heading into this weekend's Supercheap Auto 1000 at Bathurst that Greg Murphy's qualifying lap record of 2m06.8594s set in 2003 can be topped.

And the man himself says there's every chance his mark could fall if the weather conditions during Saturday qualifying and the Top 10 Shootout are conducive to fast times.

"I think it's very likely someone could do it, namely the guys in the #2 HRT Commodore," says Murphy.

"With the speed that car showed at Sandown, Garth and Mark look like being a fairly good shot.

"Lowndes did a 2m07.1s lap last year in a session which came pretty close. It will depend a lot on the weather, which wasn't too favourably last year for beating the time.

"The surface was new in 2003 and everyone noticed how much grip there was in the track. Guys were going faster than we had every gone before.

"I thought last year it would have lost a bit of its grip but it's still performing really well and this year it could still do that."

The man Murphy points to as the favourite to grab the record, the Holden Racing Team's Garth Tander, agrees with the Kiwi that the record is up for grabs.

"It will depend a lot on the weather," Tander said.

"The weather is looking pretty stable for race week so if it's stable all week and we don't get any rain on the track and that allows it to build up the rubber just as it did in 2003 it could be done."

Tander will pair with Mark Skaife in the #2 Holden Racing Team Commodore. The duo started the Sandown 500 from pole position and dominated the race before steering dramas stopped them in their tracks.

With the Peter Brock Trophy now the reward for the winners of the Bathurst classic after the passing of the ninetime race winner, victory would be extremely special for any of the Holden drivers in 2006.

"Being Holden drivers we probably will place a little more pressure on ourselves to win the race than normal," says Tander, who sits fourth in points heading to Bathurst.

"It would mean a lot to Holden if a Holden driver and team can be the first to be engraved on the Peter Brock Trophy." Murphy, who shared Brock's last victory at Bathurst with him in the 24 Hour race in 2003 in a Monaro is still finding it difficult to think of the Mountain without its King.

"It's going to be very strange without Peter Brock this year. When I start talking about it I always get a bit of a shiver down my spine. It's a huge loss to the industry and to Australia as a whole, because the place has just about ground to a halt.

"Leading up to Bathurst, it's been such a short gap between his death and the actual race, so this is going to be a very special one to be at. A lot of people will realise that and be there for a celebration of his life.

"We can't get too cocky about Holden's winning record at Bathurst, but we have to make sure we do it again."

Tasman Motorsport's Jason Richards, who finished runnerup to Skaife and Todd Kelly last year at Bathurst, says that this year's race will have added significance.

"Racing for the Peter Brock Trophy is fitting for us all going to Bathurst and the perfect way for Peter's memory to be honoured," said the Kiwi.

"Having said that, I think Murph's time can be beaten too, but not with the sort of gap of 1.2 seconds that he had over the field on that particular day in 2003. It will be far closer."

Sixteen Holden Commodore VZs will line up among the 31car grid on Sunday, with a record smashing eighth consecutive Bathurst 1000 victory for Holden the sole focus.

All drivers will be competing for the Peter Brock Trophy, named in honour of the ninetime race winner and Australian motorsport icon that passed away on September 8 of this year.

The new trophy will be presented to the winners of the Supercheap Auto 1000 by Brock's brother Phil, who paired with Peter to finish third at Bathurst in 1976 in a Torana L34 and fourth a year later in an A9X Torana.

The trophy will be unveiled to the public and media at Bathurst on Friday.

HOLDEN MOTORSPORT QUOTEBOOK

Rick Kelly (#15 Toll HSV DT Commodore VZ 2nd in points)
"There's been a Kelly on the top step of the podium at Bathurst for three years in a row now, and Todd and I hope to make it four. Having said that, it is going to be really tough this year. There are so many fast cars and fast drivers this year that whoever wins this race is really going to earn it. Our target this year will be to simply go out in each practice session and build a good race car with good race speed. Then, with a bit of luck on race day, we can go one better than we did at Sandown." th Steven Richards (#7 Jack Daniel's Racing Commodore VZ 9 in points)
"As much as you respect the legacy that Peter has left us and the legend he was we all have a big job to do for our teams, and the whole objective for Paul [Dumbrell] and I is to get that win for Jack Daniel's Racing. For some of us the championship may be off the radar, but Bathurst is the race that we all want to win, it's the biggest race of the year. I think the biggest thing with Bathurst is that you keep your mind on the game all day long it's important that come the last pit stops, you have the pace and are in a position to challenge."

Todd Kelly (#15 Toll HSV DT Commodore VZ 12th in points)
"Unfortunately, I won't be able to square up the tally with Rick this year, being in the same car. But to have success there this year with my brother would be pretty special. Rick and I have a little bit of unfinished business after Sandown. On one hand, we were happy to get good points out of it, but on the other, we would have liked to win that race. We thought we could have done a better job in a few areas, and we want to make sure that when we go to Bathurst we improve on those little things and go one spot better."

Cameron McConville (#51 Supercheap Auto Commodore VZ 21st in points)
"Mount Panorama is an incredible place it stands the hairs up on the back of your neck when you drive through the gates. Every year when you drive into town you get that feeling that it's the BIG one, our Grand Final, and it's the one race you desperately want to win. Having had such a tough year, there isn't a better place for our team to get a result than at Bathurst it's not only the biggest race of the year, but its also sponsored by our team sponsor, Supercheap Auto."

-credit: hm

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About this article
Series Supercars
Drivers Greg Murphy , Cameron McConville , Rick Kelly , Mark Skaife , Jason Richards , Todd Kelly , Peter Brock , Steven Richards
Teams Holden Racing Team