Andrew Bright


Greg Murphy (right) being strongly challenged by Simon Evans at Manfeild in February


Greg Murphy is heading for his second straight championship in the BNT V8 SuperTourers as he prepares for this weekend’s ITM 500 meeting at Pukekohe.

The reigning champion start his Holden at Pukekohe, where the Kiwi cars are supporting the V8 Supercars, with a 170-point lead over Hamilton Ford driver Ant Pedersen, who finished a close second in the 2013 championship. A win in each of the four races earns 75 points.

The 2014 series is now finishing after four rounds with a switch from a year-long championship to a more traditional format with the 2014-15 championship running from late September to April, over seven rounds. Murphy supports this move.

This weekend also sees a new format with four races each of 16 laps.

“Short races are not what we’re used to,” Murphy said. “It’s going to be go at it absolutely flat chat from the moment the green lights come on, basically.”

The shorter races make qualifying even more important, as there is less time to overtake cars if a driver has to start down the grid.

“We haven’t been able to do as good a job in qualifying as what we would have thought since Cromwell [round one] so we need to maximise that and then just race at the front and get all the points,” Murphy said.

“It sort of fell into our lap a little bit at the last round, at Pukekohe, but I won’t be getting cocky about what might happen. Everyone goes out with the same intentions I’m sure but we’ll just have to try to be better than everyone else.”

Some drivers in his situation might switch to a more cautious mode to make sure of finishing the races and collecting the points needed for the title, but Murphy emphatically rejects such an approach.

Strategy could revolve around tyre choice, Murphy reckons. Each car gets two sets of new tyres for the whole weekend – qualifying and four races – and teams will have to decide when to fit new tyres to their cars. Starting one of the later races with new tyres could give a driver a big advantage in that race.

Experienced V8 Supercar driver Steve Owen makes his first appearance of 2014, crossing the Tasman to drive the Holden previously campaigned by Andy Booth. He has raced the BNT V8 SuperTourers in previous seasons so should settle in quickly and be a real threat to the Kiwis.

While Pedersen flies the Ford flag in second place, and was fast in last month’s Pukekohe meeting, the next three placings are held by Auckland-based Holden drivers Simon Evans, Andre Heimgartner and Richard Moore respectively.

These four all have race-winning potential – Murphy is especially impressed by Evans – but the only driver to have beaten Murphy this year is experienced Aucklander Angus Fogg, who claimed race two at the previous meeting. That was an impressive performance, as “Foggy” had missed the first two rounds because of a big crash early in the first round at the new Highlands circuit.

Sixth and seventh respectively in the championship are young Aussie Morgan Haber and Aucklander Tim Edgell, who won two races last year. Both drive Holdens.

The BNT V8 SuperTourers have qualifying on Friday, two races on Saturday and two more on Sunday.

For further information please call Bernard Carpinter 0274-528-744 or Mike Marsden 021-560-075.