Kiwi motor racing legend Greg Murphy will get behind the wheel of a classic rally car for the second time this winter as he tackles the 2015 Royce Watson Memorial Hanmer Rally in north Canterbury on Saturday.
Earlier in May the former V8 Supercar driver made his gravel rally debut in the 2015 Canterbury Rally but retired when his engine expired.
“Our aim is the same as last time,” commented Murphy, “have some fun and learn from the experience.
“I’m looking to get behind the wheel and giving it another crack. Thanks to the kindness of Tony Gosling and others who have given us the chance to have another outing in the car.”
Organisers expect a full field of 50 cars to tackle the nine Special Stages held on the gravel roads of Hanmer Forest, led by top seed Matt Summerfield ahead of the quick Richard Bateman and David Clearwater.
Sitting alongside Murphy will be the experienced Mark Leonard, taking on the co-driving and ‘driver coaching’ responsibilities.
“Lennie is clearly a brave man,” said Murphy, “as was Jimmy (Hewlett) in the Canterbury Rally.
“But it’s good to have a widely respected and well-rounded driver and co-driver with me for the event.”
Rain and wintery conditions are expected to greet drivers and teams but this is not deterring Murphy.
“We’ll deal with the weather on the day. Whatever it is we will just learn from the experience.”
Before the 2015 Canterbury Rally, Murphy’s only previous experience on gravel was the 2004 Silverstone Race to The Sky held in the Cardrona Valley, Central Otago, where he raced a purpose built Holden Commodore Ute.
The short Canterbury Rally experience proved to be contagious and Murphy has always been keen to get back into the car, now with a fully refreshed engine.
“Canterbury was awesome,” commented Murphy. “Such a lot of fun as there is nothing to compare it with. It’s completely different to what I’ve been involved with up until now. In circuit racing you’re repeating everything; with rallying every foot is different.”
Organised by the Autosport Club, the rally gets underway at 11:00am and after completing over 150 kms, cars will start to arrive back at Rally HQ at the Hot Springs Motor Lodge in Hanmer Springs from 4:10pm.
Murphy’s debut has been made possible by the support of rally enthusiast Tony Gosling, Stadium Finance, Penny Homes, Leigh Marston and Rubber Developments.