Although this year's Petit Le Mans race does not form part of the World Endurance Championship calendar, the famous Atlanta event will still be welcoming some overseas entries in 2012. With the cancellation of the final two rounds of the European Le Mans Series, an alternative conclusion to the championship had to be organised. The ACO settled on inviting the European teams to enter the American Le Mans Series' finale at Road Atlanta this weekend.
One of the teams to take up the offer was Murphy Prototypes – a new name on the international sportscar scene in 2012, but one that has quickly established a strong reputation, with promising performances in ELMS and WEC races, and at Le Mans, where they led their class for several hours before retiring. At the Silverstone WEC round earlier this year, Motorsport.com sat down with team owner Greg Murphy to discuss the season so far…
I have good drivers, which is such a major part of it.
Tell us a bit about how the team came together for this season?
“I raced a good bit in single-seaters in Ireland and the UK when I was younger, but then marriage and family put that on hold for a while. Last year, I decided I’d go racing again, so I did the Speed Euroseries in Imola with RLR Motorsport, and it was good fun. Later, the team rang me up and asked if I’d be interested in racing an LM P2 car for a very reasonable price. But then the owner of the car I was due to drive wanted to sell it. So I decided to buy the car, invest in the team and get some pro drivers in. I’d been speaking to Jodie [Firth] and Warren [Hughes], and it all fell into place. It’s turned out to be a very good idea – we know now that the car will be eligible until 2016, and that definitely helps me.”
Your season has turned out quite differently to what you had planned – you probably didn't expect to be racing in World Championship events and in the US?
“No, not at all! Financially, it hasn’t played out too well, but results-wise it has. Zolder being cancelled gave us the opportunity to do the Spa WEC race, then with the Brno and Portimao rounds going, we said we’d do Silverstone. Jodie suggested we do that, in order to enter the same amount of races we'd planned in the ELMS. But now the last race is 10 hours, so financially it’s not great, but I suppose we entered the European championship and that is the European championship now. Overall, the year has been amazing – I couldn’t have dreamed it would go so well. LM P2 is at a very high level right now – even the guys scrapping over 10th and 11th in class are no fools, so we’ve been very lucky. I have good drivers, which is such a major part of it. The guys have done very well. They’re all experienced enough that they can help to engineer the car, which makes everyone’s life easier.”
“It's definitely a good thing that the same people are looking after both, so I think that’s a positive step. I don't see any reason why the ELMS shouldn't work. There are plenty of people who don’t want to fly off to China and Brazil and so on. Don't get me wrong, I’d like to do the WEC – as an entrant, you strive to be in the best possible championship, but I would need some decent partners to make it viable.”
What did you think of your first time competing at Le Mans?
“It blew my mind – it was the most amazing event I’ve ever been at. To lead our class was great, but I knew we weren’t going to win, even when we were leading. It was the standout race of the year and I loved every minute of it.”
What are you doing to prepare for 2013?
“We need to bump up the engineering side a bit, and we’ll possibly run another car – there’s a lot of stuff on the boil. I hope to have same driver line-up, too. We’re 90 percent there, but there’s a few things stopping us getting that first win. All the same, this is year one, and if you’d said to me at the start that this is how it would pan out, I’d definitely have taken that. I’d love to get a win, but I’m delighted with things so far – I think we’ve exceeded expectations. We’ve had some good drivers and partners approach us about 2013, which is obviously a very good sign.”