Four-time winner Greg Murphy declared his driving partner Rick Kelly could well surpass his record after the pair claimed a successive Bob Jane T-Marts Bathurst 1000 at Mount Panorama. Murphy and Kelly repeated their victory of last year in...
Four-time winner Greg Murphy declared his driving partner Rick Kelly could well surpass his record after the pair claimed a successive Bob Jane T-Marts Bathurst 1000 at Mount Panorama.
Murphy and Kelly repeated their victory of last year in their K-Mart Holden Commodore, relegating Ford Performance Racing's Craig Lowndes and Glenn Seton to second. Consistent Bathurst performers John Bowe and Brad Jones were third in the Ozemail Ford Falcon.
Murphy joined Allan Moffat and Mark Skaife in registering four victories in the world's greatest touring car race. Only Larry Perkins (six), Jim Richards (seven) and Peter Brock (nine) have won more Bathurst races. A record crowd of 172,695 watched the event.
When asked if he could now reach Perkins or even Brock, Murphy, 32, looked immediately to his 21-year-old partner Kelly who is only the ninth driver to win the race twice.
"I think this bloke beside me might have as much of a chance as me," Murphy said.
"At the moment I wouldn't really think about winning another one here. I've got a good chance of doing it but that kind of record doesn't bother me. I just feel very privileged and honoured to be here at all."
Murphy and Kelly dominated much of the weekend as other fell around them. The race was again a classic with crashes and kangaroos making for another unforgettable day.
Jim Richards, a multiple Bathurst winner, was in seventh place and still in a reasonable position to win the race when the stray Kangaroo appeared from nowhere and jumped directly into the path of his Castrol Perkins Motorsport Commodore.
The freakish incident meant the pit crew had to spend some 40 minutes fixing the damage in order to get the younger Richards back on the track so he could make a mad scrambled for any points he could salvage.
But nothing could take away from Murphy who was a clear winner.
"It's total disbelief almost," Murphy said.
"To go back to back is an incredible feeling. There was a lot of expectation to perform which added pressure so this is an unbelievable result."
Kelly, who may well become the lead driver of the K-Mart team next year with rumours Murphy is on the move, was more reserved about his future championship claims at Bathurst but still optimistic there is a lot more to come.
Lowndes was unable to pull back Murphy in the closing laps to give his team-mate Glenn Seton a maiden Bathurst win after 21 attempts on the mountain. The pair finished second at Bathurst last year, also behind Murphy and Kelly.
"To come out of today with second is fantastic result for the team after what it has been through this year," Seton said.
"This race is pretty important to me, it is the Melbourne Cup of motor racing and it is the one we all dream of winning... I've now come second here three times, and do have time to win it yet.
"I'd never knock back the chance to stand on the podium when you can't win the race, and we didn't have the speed to match Murphy today."
In an incident not unlike the kangaroo affair veteran Peter Brock had his Bathurst ruined without even stepping into the car. An early crash between the Holden Racing Team's Jason Plato and Ozemail's John Cleland made sure of that.
Plato was traveling at low speed trying to nurse his car back to pit lane after an earlier incident. The end washup meant that the comeback Bathurst's most decorated driver, 59-year-old Peter Brock, was over without the racing great completing a lap.
"It was like being in the big wheel at Disney World," Cleland said.
"He (Plato) was right on the race line when he should have been right up on the curb. Once everybody speared left and right I had nowhere to go. The biggest shame is that both cars were capable of top five or even top three."
It put a slight dampener on the Ozemail Team's day as it was Jones' car, being driven by Cleland and Andrew Jones, that was trashed.
"A podium result at Bathurst is always special though. This is a great result for the hardest working bunch of guys in pit lane. They did a fantastic job today," Jones said.
"One of ours today car we are pushing home in a wheelbarrow and we have one that is pretty, and we've only got two weeks to get ready for the next round. So the pressure is on again."
Championship leader Marcos Ambrose finished a credible fourth considering multiple dramas the Pirtek Racing Team experienced on the weekend with Bathurst eluding him once again. He still managed to extend his championship lead with Richards finishing 21st and Jason Bright 12th.
"We did not have the car for the track at the end of the day," said Ambrose.
"It is nice to extend the championship lead and I guess that's what this is all about, but I think we were certainly a chance to win this race today. There is always next year."
Richards (1509) dropped from third to fifth while Bright retained second (1612) behind Ambrose (1667). Kelly (1565) is in third with Caltex Havoline's Russell Ingall (1519) fourth.