Murphy tames the mountain

The K-Mart pairing of Kiwi Greg Murphy and Rick Kelly tamed the treacherous Mt Panorama circuit at Bathurst, west of Sydney, New South Wales, to take out the Bob Jane Bathurst 1000 after dominating practice, qualifying and the 'shoot out' over the...

The K-Mart pairing of Kiwi Greg Murphy and Rick Kelly tamed the treacherous Mt Panorama circuit at Bathurst, west of Sydney, New South Wales, to take out the Bob Jane Bathurst 1000 after dominating practice, qualifying and the 'shoot out' over the weekend. This was Murphy's third win and the first for Kelly, who is the youngest driver to have ever taken on the Mountain and won.

The Kiwi likened the victory to a fairy tale come true, particularly after the dramas of last year where he was penalized five minutes for an incident in the pits, which robbed him of any chance of victory. Asked how he compared this win to 1996 and 1999 and he simply replied, 'This one is hard to beat'.

While Holden secured their fifth straight win, Ford drivers Craig Lowndes and Glenn Seton took second and were joined on the podium by Steve Ellery and Luke Youlden. Seton was making his 20th appearance and this has been the closest he has come to winning the Great Race. It certainly put a smile on his face and gives him some hope of conquering the Mountain one day like his father, particularly with a co-driver the caliber of Lowndes. Ellery and Youlden continued their good form, following their second place at the Betta Electrical Sandown 500 a few weeks earlier, proving they have a thirst for endurance races.

Favourites, Marcos Ambrose and Russell Ingall in the Stone Bros Racing and Mark Skaife and Todd Kelly (brother of Rick) in the Holden Racing Team had disappointing weekends finishing 6th and 8th respectively. Skaife, the consummate professional, looked at one stage certain to catch the K-Mart car until his was black flagged by the officials for a damaged rear door which resulted from an incident with John Bowe in the OzEmail Ford, who later ended in the sand trap at the end of pit straight after a tangle with Steven Richards. Skaife remained on the track for a dozen laps after being told by team manager Jeff Grech not to pit. Many fans wondered why the officials took the action, particular after the safety car had been circulating and effectively there were only a handful of laps remaining.

Although the 50,000 plus crowd witnessed many an incident throughout the 161 laps, perhaps the most inspiring drive came from the Castrol Racing Team of Steven Richards and veteran Larry Perkins to finish 4th . Saturday's practice session saw Perkins hit the Armco fence at the Cutting after an admitted lapse in concentration, which begged the question if permanent retirement was on the cards. It was evident for all to see on the Channel 10 coverage that Perkins was distraught after the impact. The ever reliable TAFE team worked overtime to get the car back on track and fittingly saw Perkins 'retire with some dignity'.

Fellow veteran and father of Steven Richards, Jim Richards, paired with long time rival Tony Longhurst in the second Holden Racing Team car to grab 5th, despite Richards tangling with his son whilst in pursuit of Steven Ellery. Regardless of his age, Richards senior, who drives full time in the Porsche Carrera Cup series, and again dominated in the category over the weekend, still has what it takes to throw a V8 Supercar around the Mountain.

The Betta Electrical Ford combination of Paul Radisich and former British Touring Car Champion, Rickard Rydell managed a credible 7th, while fellow BTC driver, John Cleland came in 9th after teaming with Andrew Jones in the second OzEmail car, ahead of the sister car of John Bowe and Brad Jones who finished 10th after being towed from the sand trap, following frantic pleas to the flag marshals.

With three rounds of the Championship remaining, Ambrose maintains a slender lead over Murphy, while team mate Russell Ingall in the second Stone Bros car holds down 3rd ahead of defending champion Skaife.

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Series Supercars
Drivers Marcos Ambrose , Greg Murphy , Russell Ingall , Andrew Jones , Jim Richards , Rick Kelly , Brad Jones , Mark Skaife , Craig Lowndes , Paul Radisich , John Bowe , Glenn Seton , Todd Kelly , John Cleland , Luke Youlden , Tony Longhurst , Larry Perkins , Bob Jane , Rickard Rydell , Steven Richards
Teams Holden Racing Team