Greg Murphy, a four-time winner of Australian Supercars’ iconic Bathurst 1000 race, is the latest star name to join the grid for next year’s New Zealand Grand Prix.
The opening round of the Toyota Racing Series season at Hampton Downs has attracted many of New Zealand’s top motorsport stars for the grand prix, following fears international drivers would not have been allowed to compete due to immigration restrictions.
After racing in Formula Ford, Murphy – now 48 years old – stepped up to Formula Brabham in 1994 and won that year’s New Zealand GP in the category as well as finishing second in the Australian Drivers’ Championship. He then moved into touring cars, making his way into the Supercars championship which he finished second in in 2002 and ’03.
“It was obviously the most significant thing that I had achieved in my career,” Murphy said of his grand prix win.
“I had won a few things but nothing that really announced myself as someone that could be a professional race car driver.
“The big thing – I can recall the feeling around it – is that it was like I had put a stake in the ground. It meant a lot.
“It was a progression and a key contributor with where I went next – at that point it was still a hobby I did as an amateur but that allowed me to chase a career.”
Murphy scaled back his racing commitments this decade, while still winning, and will now be emulating his son Ronan (as well as himself), who competes in United States Formula 4, by coming back to single-seaters.
“It will be a massive challenge. I think perspective needs to be applied – I’m 48 and haven’t done anything serious in a car, competing for such a big trophy since 2014 really. I have done a bit of GT racing but that was just fun,” added Murphy.
“The competitive element will kick in – none of us wants to be there making up the numbers – but I will not have it easy.
“The fact that Kenny Smith is entering his 50th New Zealand Grand Prix was a big draw card to competing. If my involvement helps grow the interest in the event then that will be a success.
“This event deserves to be recognised for what it is. By getting some top performers in other categories and stars that have competed before coming back it will help create the spark in the New Zealand Grand Prix that is deserves.”