Surfers Paradise: Greg Murphy Racing preview

Murphy racks up 100th V8 Supercar championship start on the Gold Coast Bathurst stars HRT and Tasman switch to street-fighter mode for Indy Greg Murphy has two reasons to celebrate the V8 Supercar circus' return to the Gold Coast, not...

   Murphy racks up 100th V8 Supercar championship start on the Gold Coast

Bathurst stars HRT and Tasman switch to street-fighter mode for Indy

Greg Murphy has two reasons to celebrate the V8 Supercar circus' return to the Gold Coast, not only is he returning to a circuit he enjoys as the defending Gillette V8 Supercar Challenge champion, but the 33-year-old is also celebrating his 100th championship start.

Murphy's career in V8 Supercars, which began as an endurance driver for the Holden Racing Team in 1995, has for the most part been colourful, exciting and successful while, at times, it's been highly controversial - Murphy's 11 championship round wins, four Bathurst and two Sandown 500 victories and four New Zealand titles as major highlights.

Debuting in the series in 1997 when he joined the Holden Racing Team full- time, Murphy has finished on the podium on 30 other occasions, which leaves him with a 41.4% podium-scoring tally.

However, his winning tally doesn't include his 1996 Bathurst and 1996/1997 Sandown 500 wins, as they weren't rounds of the V8 Supercar Series at the time.

Since his debut, Murphy drove only one round in 1998 but has been full-time ever since with Gibson Motorsport for two seasons, Kmart Racing for four and now with Super Cheap Auto Racing.

While not one for dwelling too much on history, preferring to leave that to a time when his driving career is well and truly over, Murphy couldn't think of a better place to line up in his Super Cheap Auto Commodore and celebrate a career milestone.

"I love the Indy Carnival on the Gold Coast, it's one of motor racing's great events - not only for the challenge it provides us drivers on the circuit, but also for the atmosphere, it's just an incredible week," Murphy said.

Murphy's words of affection are backed up by his Indy results. The past three years he has stepped onto the podium, each year progressing up one step further to last year's round victory.

"Next to having a Bathurst trophy on the mantle, the Nev surfboard trophies awarded to the placegetters at Indy are the most sought after in V8 Supercars, everyone wants one.

"I've been fairly lucky over the last three years to have collected a complete set - third, second and, from last year, first. That's pretty cool for someone like me who is into extreme sports.

"Like anyone who's competitive though, I won't be satisfied unless I can add another one to the collection this year."

While Murphy isn't in the championship hunt, Bathurst 1000 winner Todd Kelly definitely is. The Holden Racing Team #22 driver is now within 76 points of series leader Russell Ingall and has three rounds to chase down Ingall and Stone Brothers Racing teammate Marcos Ambrose.

The winner of the Shanghai, Darwin and Bathurst rounds, Kelly is taking an 'all or nothing' approach to the remaining three rounds of the series.

"I've told the team that I don't want to finish second or third - that doesn't interest me," he said. "We're having a fair-dinkum crack at this thing and if I fade and finish fifth or sixth, then at least I'll know that we had a go," he said.

"Bathurst was an indication of how quickly the championship can turn around. For the leaders it's definitely a lot easier to protect yourself in these 'sprint' rounds, but if my rivals DNF in any race and I win, I've gained 64 points on them.

"I know I have Mark's support and that means a lot because he is a pretty competitive guy. But I also know that could change - he's driving really well at the moment and has a good history at each of these last three tracks so I don't think the leaders - including myself - should be feeling too complacent."

Hot on the heels of Kelly and Mark Skaife at Bathurst was Tasman Motorsport pairing Jason Richards and Jamie Whincup. The duo, who also finished third at Sandown, have helped boost the team into the spotlight and are keen to keep their momentum running.

"I've been running on a lot of adrenalin and excitement over the last week, which is what you gain from having such a great result at Bathurst," said Richards, who is in New Zealand early this week to meet the amount of media requests he's had since finishing on the podium at Bathurst.

"I've got my eyes firmly fixed on one of those surfboard trophies. I've acquired the taste of champagne in the last two races so we'll be doing out best to keep that flavour going. I can't surf to save myself but getting on the podium at Indy would give me a good reason to learn!"

NOTES AND QUOTES

Steven Richards (#11 Castrol Commodore VZ - 4th in points) "@It is going to be tough, but I'm not giving up on the championship yet. The nature of Indy's street circuit is such that it can change the championship quite easily. I haven't had the best of luck on the Gold Coast the last few years, but that's been a reliability issue, which is normally our strong point, rather than a lack of speed. Realistically, I need to finish on the podium at the last three events while Ingall, Ambrose and Kelly are going to have to have some sort of misfortune. It's not over yet."

Mark Skaife (#2 HRT Commodore VZ - 6th in points)
"I haven't given up on winning the championship myself by any means - I am only 78 points behind Todd, who is 76 behind the leader, and with 192 points available for each of the three rounds left, it's definitely game on. The Holden Racing Team has always had a fair amount of success on these next three tracks, so I'm confident that both Todd and myself can finish the year strongly. But at the moment Todd represents the best chance this team has of winning the championship so I will help him in any way I can." Garth Tander (#16 HSV Dealer Team Commodore VZ - 8th in points) "You need to start the Indy race up towards the front because the field tends to spread out pretty quickly due to the nature of the track. You can lose a couple of seconds a lap just racing someone around there. And you also need a bit of luck, because someone can have a moment around the corner and you can drive straight into it. Our team has a good record there - they won there last year - so I think we have a very good chance."

Cameron McConville (#33 Valvoline Commodore VZ - 10th in points)
"We've got a bit of momentum going at the moment with three top 10 round results in a row at Oran Park, Sandown and Bathurst. It's great to finally be back in the top 10 in the championship points. We've been knocking on the door for the last three or four months and it's finally opened up for us."

Rick Kelly (#15 HSV DT Commodore VZ - 11th in points)
"Indy is a track I like. You have to be aggressive in qualifying to get a good lap time to start near the front because it is so hard to make up places in the races. Last year I qualified third by attacking the track in the Shootout. Even though we had more than our share of problems at Bathurst, our car was actually quite quick and I don't think a podium is out of the question this weekend."

-gmr-

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About this article
Series Supercars
Drivers Garth Tander , Marcos Ambrose , Greg Murphy , Cameron McConville , Russell Ingall , Rick Kelly , Mark Skaife , Jason Richards , Jamie Whincup , Steven Richards
Teams Holden Racing Team