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Black Bullet Profile: Greg Murphy
V8 Supercars, Australia
www.murph.co.nz

 
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Greg Murphy first burst onto the Australian racing scene in 1994 after honing his skills in the junior ranks of karting and Formula Ford. In his debut year racing Formula Brabham - then Australia's fastest single seater category - Greg quickly proved his mettle with several outstanding performances before going on to take out second place in the Championship, losing victory in the last race of the season.

His early success caught the attention of the professional touring car establishment and a year later he joined their ranks, becoming one of the first new-generation drivers who now dominate the top-level category.

Greg raced with the luxury-make Audi works team in the 2-Litre Super Touring Championship and enjoyed eleven top five finishes from eleven starts. However, it was when Greg joined the pace-setting Holden Racing Team to partner Craig Lowndes in the V8 Supercar endurance races that his true ability came to the fore. The duo took memorable victories in the highly coveted Sandown 500 and Bathurst 1000 events in 1996, forcing the racing fraternity to sit up and take notice of Greg's scene stealing arrival in the nation's premier racing category. By winning races, Greg's career was ignited in the best way possible. He was elevated to the forefront of the high profile V8 Supercar scene, turning him into a household name with a huge public following and considerable media interest, which remains today.

When endurance partner Lowndes left the Holden factory team to pursue overseas ambitions in 1997, Greg was the obvious replacement. He shared the HRT centre stage with all-time racing legend, Peter Brock, in his retirement season. Greg contested his first full season of V8 touring cars that year and, despite a series of early mechanical problems thwarting his championship aspirations, he finished fourth overall re-teaming with Lowndes in the process to successfully take Sandown 500 honours for the second year running - a sensational achievement by any standard.

1998 saw the personable Kiwi set his sights on the big league in the form of the US Indycar feeder category, the Indy Lights. In a never-ending battle to secure the required funding, Greg endured his quietest season in terms of a regular drive through choice rather than necessity. He turned down several touring car opportunities to concentrate on securing an Indy Lights drive, however the vagaries of sourcing sponsorship finally got the better of him. Greg did complete several successful test for an Indy Lights team in which he proved he was up to the challenge and on pace but with finance proving the final stumbling block, he decided to return to Australia and concentrate on winning the V8 Supercar championship the following season.

While chasing his American dream, Greg remained under contract to HRT, debuting the team's new Holden Commodore VT at Calder Park before lining up again for the Sandown 500 and Bathurst 1000 races. He also competed for the BTCC Triple 8 Racing Team in the AMP Bathurst 1000 for Super Tourers.

Greg changed his focus in 1999, joining the racing outfit of Gibson Motorsport for a full season's racing. A tough year of on-track competition saw Murphy develop his on-track tenacity and depth of driving skill, his concentrated efforts rewarded with another victory - his second - as a top-level driver in Australia's pinnacle motorsport event: the Bathurst 1000. A top ten placing in the overall championship (6th) reinforced Greg's standing as one of the best drivers around.

The year 2000 saw Greg again team up with his Bathurst winning partner, Steven Richards, to aggressively attack the championship under the banner of the level one Kmart Racing Team. Hampered by new car set up difficulties, Greg rallied to the challenge, recording consistent top-ten placings including an opening race win in the inaugural Canberra 400 that delivered a top six overall season finish.

Murphy's Kmart Racing Team aligned with Tom Walkinshaw Racing at the start of the 2001 season, after being left "High and Dry" when his former team owner sold the team. Former team-mate, Steven Richards defected to the Ford Tickford Racing camp and Greg found himself partnering former Holden Young Lion, Todd Kelly for the series.

The alignment with TWR was quick to pay off, with Greg taking out his first race win for the season at Eastern Creek raceway in April as well as pole position for the Clipsal 500 earlier in the same month. An exciting season followed with more wins at Hidden Valley, Winton and a "Clean Sweep" in front of a parochial Kiwi crowd at the Boost International in Auckland. Podium finishes at the Queensland 500 and Bathurst with Team-mate Todd Kelly made 2001 extremely rewarding. The talented New Zealander now had a greater hunger for success than ever before in his career.

2003 delivered so much for Greg and the K Mart Team. While the ultimate Championship victory eluded Greg, the year saw unforgettable victories at Bathurst and Pukekohe. The Bathurst win was his third success on the Mountain, while his unrivaled love affair with his home track continued for the third successive year. With luck rarely falling his way throughout 2003, Greg was fiercely determined to secure the V8 Supercar Crown in 2004.

To say 2004 was an inconsistent year would be an understatement - rousing victories at Indy and Bathurst were mixed in with setup problems with his #51 Kmart Commodore that ultimately put paid to his Championship hopes. Despite the frustrations, Bathurst was once again a special victory for Greg and teammate Rick Kelly, again proving the pair's undeniable skill and ability on the biggest day of the year.

Having already achieved the level of success that most drivers aspire to, Greg Murphy still believes he can improve and has plenty of potential to realise. His racing career has, in his eyes, shown only a glimpse of his capabilities. His steely determination to forge an enviable winning record in motorsport guarantees his preparedness to go beyond the limits of expected dedication; anything to bring him closer to crossing the line before all and sundry.

An approachable character when outside the cabin of a race car, Greg has ably demonstrated his communication skills and marketability as a regular commentator for Network 10 during its live telecast of the Shell Australian Touring Car Championship. Known for his down to earth, 'tell it like it is' philosophy, Greg's inside knowledge of the sport and views as a driver have proven popular with TV viewers and fans alike.

Greg's achievements in motorsport have been honoured in kind by his appointment as an official ambassador for the Qantas Australian Grand Prix for the past five years. His duties included attending a number of functions to promote the race on behalf of event organisers, participating in photo and autograph signings as well as attending corporate events, during which Greg's business acumen and professionalism shone through.

The thing about Greg Murphy is, he's like a dog to a bone and no matter whose backyard he's in, he won't let go once he's got the taste. Of winning, that is!





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