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Holden's ace for Bathurst victory


Holden's V8 Supercar stars agree on one thing heading into this weekend's Supercheap Auto 1000 at Bathurst - that Greg Murphy's qualifying lap record of 2m06.8594s set in 2003 can be topped. ^

And the man himself says there's every chance his mark could fall if the weather conditions during Saturday qualifying and the Top 10 Shootout are conducive to fast times.

"I think it's very likely someone could do it, namely the guys in the #2 HRT Commodore," says Murphy.

"With the speed that car showed at Sandown, Garth and Mark look like being a fairly good shot.

"Lowndes did a 2m07.1s lap last year in a session which came pretty close. It will depend a lot on the weather, which wasn't too favourably last year for beating the time.

"The surface was new in 2003 and everyone noticed how much grip there was in the track. Guys were going faster than we had every gone before.

"I thought last year it would have lost a bit of its grip but it's still performing really well and this year it could still do that."

The man Murphy points to as the favourite to grab the record, the Holden Racing Team's Garth Tander, agrees with the Kiwi that the record is up for grabs.

"It will depend a lot on the weather," Tander said.
"The weather is looking pretty stable for race week so if it's stable all week and we don't get any rain on the track and that allows it to build up the rubber just as it did in 2003 it could be done."

Tander will pair with Mark Skaife in the #2 Holden Racing Team Commodore. The duo started the Sandown 500 from pole position and dominated the race before steering dramas stopped them in their tracks.

With the Peter Brock Trophy now the reward for the winners of the Bathurst classic after the passing of the ninetime race winner, victory would be extremely special for any of the Holden drivers in 2006.

"Being Holden drivers we probably will place a little more pressure on ourselves to win the race than normal," says Tander, who sits fourth in points heading to Bathurst.

"It would mean a lot to Holden if a Holden driver and team can be the first to be engraved on the Peter Brock Trophy."

Murphy, who shared Brock's last victory at Bathurst with him - in the 24 Hour race in 2003 in a Monaro - is still finding it difficult to think of the Mountain without its King. "It's going to be very strange without Peter Brock this year. When I start talking about it I always get a bit of a shiver down my spine. It's a huge loss to the industry and to Australia as a whole, because the place has just about ground to a halt.

"Leading up to Bathurst, it's been such a short gap between his death and the actual race, so this is going to be a very special one to be at. A lot of people will realise that and be there for a celebration of his life.

"We can't get too cocky about Holden's winning record at Bathurst, but we have to make sure we do it again."

Tasman Motorsport's Jason Richards, who finished runnerup to Skaife and Todd Kelly last year at Bathurst, says that this year's race will have added significance.

"Racing for the Peter Brock Trophy is fitting for us all going to Bathurst and the perfect way for Peter's memory to be honoured," said the Kiwi.

"Having said that, I think Murph's time can be beaten too, but not with the sort of gap of 1.2 seconds that he had over the field on that particular day in 2003. It will be far closer."

Sixteen Holden Commodore VZs will line up among the 31car grid on Sunday, with a recordsmashing eighth consecutive Bathurst 1000 victory for Holden the sole focus. All drivers will be competing for the Peter Brock Trophy, named in honour of the ninetime race winner and Australian motorsport icon that passed away on September 8 of this year.

The new trophy will be presented to the winners of the Supercheap Auto 1000 by Brock's brother Phil, who paired with Peter to finish third at Bathurst in 1976 in a Torana L34 and fourth a year later in an A9X Torana.
The trophy will be unveiled to the public and media at Bathurst on Friday.

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