Murphy Heads For New Zealand Three-Peat Greg Murphy has had the perfect start in his quest to win his third V8 International at Pukekohe in New Zealand. Murphy claimed pole earlier in the day after the Shootout was ruled out because of...
Murphy Heads For New Zealand Three-Peat
Greg Murphy has had the perfect start in his quest to win his third V8 International at Pukekohe in New Zealand.
Murphy claimed pole earlier in the day after the Shootout was ruled out because of inclement weather, and then dominated the wet opening race for the weekend.
HRT driver Todd Kelly was second after being denied his win in the Shootout earlier in the day, with Garth Tander home in third to give Holden a clean sweep of the podium.
Championship leader Marcos Ambrose briefly headed Murphy in the race before slipping down to sixth spot, one ahead of Championship contender Mark Skaife was had a spin on the first lap of the race.
But as ever, all eyes in his homeland were on Murphy and the dream start to his weekend. Murphy has won both previous rounds of the series held in New Zealand.
"There is a long way to go, but getting Saturday out of the way like that is great," Murphy said. "I'm not getting too excited about it yet, I can't believe we were able to win that race."
Steady rain settled in an hour before the start of the race, leaving the drivers struggling for grip on the slippery start line.
"When I left the grid on the warm-up lap I had massive wheel spin and I was just dawdling away, and then I did the same at the start and it just bogged down. (Mark) Skaifey and Max (Wilson) got some grip and they were away, but any concerns soon disappeared.
"I thought there was going to be a crash five seconds after the start, so I just backed off and stayed out of it. It was always going to happen, and they hit pretty hard too. I was smiling inside my helmet."
Wilson and Skaife had a coming together at the infamous turn 2 that claimed Jason Richards yesterday, Skaife sliding off into the sand and Wilson left facing the oncoming traffic, lucky not to be gather up by the closing field. Further back, Mark Larkham, Cam McConville, Anthony Tratt, Jamie Whincup and David Besnard were all involved in an incident, McConville ending his race buried nose first in the wall.
That brought the Safety Car onto the track with Murphy leading, but Ambrose jumped Murphy on the first round of pitstops and took a theoretical lead in the race. Although he was quickly swallowed by Murphy who was the class of the field today.
Todd Kelly's drive was great from 10th on the grid, slowly picking his way up the order to eventually claim second.
"I was a little but grumpy after they wiped the Shootout, and I think used that a bit in the race," Kelly said. "I'm surprised there wasn't a bigger accident down the back straight, I was in 10th spot and I couldn't see anything... I think everyone did a great job."
Kelly spent a lot of the race following Jason Bargwanna, saying the Orrcon Ford driver was very defensive for much of the time but he resisted the urge to push him out of the way.
"I wanted to nerf him out of the way, but I couldn't for obvious reasons."
Tander was easier prey for Kelly, but the Repco Valvoline Cummins Commodore driver kept his edge over Bargwanna to claim the final spot on the interim podium.
"The car was pretty good straight out of the truck yesterday, but then we lost our way a little," Tander said. "We wanted to try some things in the Shootout this morning, but as it turned out we couldn't.
"We have put in a big effort to have a good weekend here."
He said his stop was on par with most in pitlane, crucially moving him ahead of Bargwanna but not up to speed with Stone Brothers.
"Obviously Stone Brothers are the best in pitlane, so we've all got some work to do to catch them."
Bargwanna eventually claimed fourth, his best result since joining the Orrcon Falcon team earlier this year. Local boy Paul Radisich was fourth in his Betta Electrical Falcon, with Ambrose next and hunting for his first title.
Ambrose said after the race his car wasn't too good in the wet, and he lacked confidence in the Pirtek Falcon under brakes and simply concentrated on bringing the car home in the hope of a dry race tomorrow.
Skaife's recovery from the first lap incident was pretty amazing, climbing from 23rd on the track to claim seventh at the end.
"I saw him there and I was going to give him some room to go through the esses with me," Skaife said of his crash with Wilson. "But he was on the wet line so I guess he just had no grip... I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he didn't serve me on purpose."
The final spots in the top 10 fell to Rick Kelly who started from pitlane after electrical problems, Steve Ellery and Steve Johnson.
Despite today's rain, Kiwi's have turned out in record numbers to watch the V8s. Round 12 concludes tomorrow with two races.
<pre> Race 1 Results - Round 12 PlaceMakers V8 International 1. Greg Murphy - Kmart Commodore VY 2. Todd Kelly - HRT Commodore VY 3. Garth Tander - Repco Valvoline Cummins Commodore VY 4. Jason Bargwanna - Orrcon Falcon BA 5. Paul Radisich - Betta Electrical Falcon BA 6. Marcos Ambrose - Pirtek Falcon BA 7. Mark Skaife - HRT Commodore VY 8. Rick Kelly - Kmart Commodore VX 9. Steve Ellery - Super Cheap Falcon BA 10. Steve Johnson - Shell Helix Falcon BA
Championship Standings (Non-Corrected Scores) 1. Marcos Ambrose 1,921 2. Greg Murphy 1,859 3. Mark Skaife 1,733 4. Russell Ingall 1,731 5. Craig Lowndes 1,574 6. Rick Kelly 1,540 7. Steve Richards 1,463 8. Jason Bright 1,462 9. Todd Kelly 1,422 10. Paul Radisich 1,375