Pukekohe: Holden Motorsport preview

DEFENDING PUKEKOHE CHAMP GREG MURPHY EAGER TO GET BACK ON TRACK IN REVERSE GRID DEBUT V8 SUPERCAR racing will be turned from front to back, literally, for the first time this weekend as reverse grid racing is introduced to the series in the...

DEFENDING PUKEKOHE CHAMP GREG MURPHY EAGER TO GET BACK ON TRACK IN REVERSE GRID DEBUT

V8 SUPERCAR racing will be turned from front to back, literally, for the first time this weekend as reverse grid racing is introduced to the series in the second round of 2006 at Pukekohe in New Zealand.

A controversial decision by V8 Supercars Australia that was announced at last year's final round at Phillip Island, the reverse grid race has the potential for plenty of carnage as faster cars race back through the 31car field.

But while there's the potential for disaster in the reverse grid second race which will also feature in nine more rounds this year there's plenty of Holden stars who are looking forward to the challenge.

Defending Pukekohe winner Greg Murphy's Supercheap Auto Racing Commodore has been completely rebuilt since its Clipsal 500 crash in Adelaide and the Kiwi ace is ready to tackle the new reverse grid format.

"My thoughts on the reverse grid races are exactly the same as most of the other guys I'm definitely not a fan of them," Murphy said.

"But, they're a part of the championship and you just have to get on with it and race, especially at Pukekohe, which is a race that means so much to me.

"I've got no doubts that the reverse grid races are going to play a deciding part in the championship. I just hope we can get through them unscathed after Adelaide, we can't afford any more unnecessary damage."

As always, Holden has a strong Kiwi flavour to its driving lineup for Pukekohe, including Murphy, Jason Richards, Paul Radisich and New Zealandborn Steven Richards. In fact, New Zealanders will drive six of the 17 Holden Commodores in the field, more than a third of the total Holden lineup!

Adding to that this weekend is Aucklander Fabian Coulthard. The reigning Carrera Cup Champion is sharing the #39 Team Sirromet W ines Commodore with Alan Gurr for the season and will make his first V8 Supercar start on home soil.

"Murph seems to grow longer legs in front of a home crowd, but if I do that I won't fit into the car at all!" the lanky Coulthard said.

"It's nice to be back racing on home soil again. I'm not feeling any pressure it's just all part of the progression from Formula Ford to Carrera Cup to V8 Supercars. If I could finish in the mid to high teens I'd be pretty happy with my weekend's work."

The Melbournebased cars were airlifted today from Avalon Airport, with the cargo including the repaired HRT and Toll HSV DT Commodores of Mark Skaife and Rick Kelly.

After using a spare chassis at the Australian Grand Prix meeting, Skaife is back in his onerace old Commodore as debuted at Adelaide, while Kelly's car has had both front chassis rails replaced after a collision at Albert Park.

Another Kiwi joining in on the Pukekohe fun is Mark Porter, who lifts the regular Holden car count by one in the exPW R Commodore that he campaigns in the Fujitsu Series. In a oneoff, Porter has leased a licence to take part in the round.

HOLDEN MOTORSPORT QUOTEBOOK

Rick Kelly (#15 Toll HSV DT Commodore VZ 2nd in points)
"The car is basically brand new. It is completely rebuilt and prepped for Pukekohe. The boys are really motivated because we are defending second place in the championship, and with the improvements we have made in the engine performance and chassis, we think we are a really good chance."

Todd Kelly (#22 Holden Racing Team Commodore VZ 3rd in points)
"We will still be going as hard as possible in qualifying and the first race where the majority of points are up for grabs. The reverse grid and fewer points in Race 2 means you can take a conservative approach and pick off a few slower guys, and hopefully obtain a good starting position for the run to the flag in Race 3."

Jason Richards (#3 Tasman Motorsport Commodore VZ 25t h in points)
"We're revved up for this one! How could you not be excited? W e've been competitive at the Clipsal 500, ultracompetitive at the Grand Prix and last year I was in the Shootout at Pukekohe. Since then, Tasman has made a significant improvement in all areas. I'll be trying to lift myself for the occasion without putting too much pressure on myself."

-hm-

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About this article
Series Supercars
Drivers Greg Murphy , Rick Kelly , Mark Skaife , Fabian Coulthard , Jason Richards , Paul Radisich , Todd Kelly , Alan Gurr , Mark Porter , Phillip Island
Teams Holden Racing Team