New cars, expanded team, greater technical knowledge, exciting driver line-up

Wednesday, February 28, 2007 The 2007 V8 Supercar Championship kicks off with this weekend's Clipsal 500 in Adelaide, and along with it comes a fresh new look for Tasman Motorsport - the rising star amongst Holden's factory-supported teams.

Four-time Bathurst winner Greg Murphy joins fellow Kiwi and Tasman Motorsport stalwart Jason Richards to present one of the most exciting driver line-ups in the championship.

Tasman Motorsport will also field two brand new VE Commodores in Adelaide - one of just three Holden teams to do so - following an intensive, three-month build program during the off-season.

The team's technical abilities have also been expanded with respected Race and Data Analysis Engineers Adam DeBorre (ex-Garry Rogers Motorsport), Steve Henderson and Steve Harris (ex-Supercheap Auto Racing), along with Engine Development Manager Royce McCort (ex-Holden Racing Team), joining the Melbourne-based team, in addition to other highly regarded personnel.

Confronting the team is an expanded championship, which grows from 13 to 14 rounds, a new, F1-style qualifying format, a different point structure that is more heavily weighted towards winners and only awards points to top 15 finishers, and the most competitive field in V8 Supercar history.

"It is an extremely exciting time for Tasman Motorsport, and V8 Supercars in general, and I'm more than glad to be a part of it," Richards, who is in his fourth year with the team, said.

The current Clipsal lap record holder, Richards said the first Tasman Motorsport VE Commodore, rolled out for one day of testing at Winton last week, was strong.

"First time out of the box the VE Commodore was pretty impressive; quick times weren't the object of the day, it was more of a shakedown, but it was quite responsive to the changes we made. To be as good as it was is a real credit to the entire team, which has put in a huge effort to get us to Adelaide," he said.

While hopeful of a victory, Richards was circumspect in his Clipsal predictions.

"We'd like to win the race, no questions, but our main focus is on making sure we come away with good results from both races and set up our season. We've had a strong package there in the past, as shown by our lap record last year, but we haven't had the 'real' results we were looking for and that puts the entire team on the back foot for the rest of the season - it's proved to be our Achilles heel," he said.

The 30-year-old said there were three key elements to a successful weekend in Adelaide.

"The three key elements are making sure we are as cool as possible inside the car as the forecast for Friday and Saturday is in the high-30s, which will make it nearly 60deg inside the car; for the team to do its best to ensure the car's reliability, and for me to stay out of trouble. If we can do that, then it's possible to set-up a great year."

Murphy joins Tasman Motorsport after two indifferent years with Supercheap Auto Racing.

"There are a lot of positive things going on at Tasman Motorsport and I am happy to be joining the team in what promises to be a most exciting chapter in its history," Murphy said.

"The team has been blazing away and putting in some strong performances over the last couple of years, and things will only improve with the strong team they have assembled."

After just one day of testing the team's first VE Commodore, in which he shared driving duties with Richards, Murphy was a little guarded in his thoughts about the new car but quietly confident about it and the year ahead for Tasman Motorsport.

"The test was very much a shakedown for the car and getting to know the team for me, and it probably felt different in comparison to what I've been used more so because it is a new chassis and I haven't had a new car in five years, but it did respond to the few changes we made and that's encouraging," he said.

"Jason's shown good speed in the past and we'd like to think we 'll be able to start with that and improve if we're to get the team up into the top five or three and winning races.

"Our goal is to win races and establish the team amongst the series' top teams. It's not going to be easy but we have set our goals and want to achieve them."

-credit: tm