Just because you are good at karting it doesn’t mean you will succeed in Supercars or other forms of motorsport. That’s the advice of Hawke’s Bay motor racing hero Greg Murphy who with four-time world softball champion Thomas Makea jnr will be inducted into the Hall of Fame at the annual Hawke’s Bay Sportsperson of the Year function at Taradale’s Pettigrew Green Arena on May 26. “You can be the best kart driver and still not make it,” four-time Bathurst 1000 winner Murphy said. However, the Havelock North father-of-three admitted the 12 years he spent karting in the Bay was “the ideal education and a very good springboard” for his racing career which began with the Nissan-Mobil Series in 1992 and still continues in various forms. Murphy pointed out his oldest son, 16-year-old Ronan, and Zac Stichbury, a son of former V8 Touring Car driver, the late Ashley Stichbury, regular karting rivals in recent seasons, were two of 15 drivers who trialled for a Toyota TR86 scholarship at Hampton Downs last weekend. “Neither of them got one. They are both raw and fresh but it was a good experience for them.” Just as Makea’s sons Dante and Reilly have followed in their father’s footsteps and gained Black Sox selection there is every chance Ronan, who has now left the karting scene, will emulate some of his old man’s feats on four wheels. Like Makea, Murphy, who returned to the Bay four years ago after being Melbourne-based, hasn’t done as much as he would like in the Bay in recent years but is still honoured with his induction. “It’s nice to be recognised in my home region. It’s a little bit of a surprise at the same time. It’s good to be home too … Monique [his wife] and I reckon this is a great part of the world to be,” Murphy said. The pending induction resulted in numerous memories of his racing career flooding back. High on his list of highlights were his four wins at the Bathurst 1000 – 1996 with Craig Lowndes and the Holden team, 1999 with Steven Richards, 2003 and ’04 with Rick Kelly. It wasn’t a surprise when Murph labelled Bathurst as his favourite racing venue. “Obviously because of its history and the results I’ve had there. I was very fortunate to have the chance to participate at that level.” Murphy’s 2003 pole position time of 2:06.8594 at Bathurst stood as the fastest lap ever recorded at the Mt Panorama circuit until eclipsed seven years later. It is known colloquially as “The Lap of the Gods” and widely regarded as one of the finest moments in Bathurst folklore. He declined to reveal his worst venue but agreed “some tracks were not as entertaining as others”. Murphy, 45, also struggled to rank his best teammates. “I was fortunate to have fantastic teammates. But I couldn’t put one on top of the other. “I pretty good first season with Craig [Lowndes] and two Bathursts with Rick [Kelly] were pretty special. Then there was Jason Richards … we didn’t always get on like best mates because personality wise we were quite different.” And his most admired rivals? “During my first period it had to be Craig [Lowndes] because he broke lots of records. Mark Scaife was one of the hardest to beat and in latter years it had to be Jamie Whincup … he is an utter freak who has to be the most successful driver ever and the best ever.” A media commentator for the International V8 Supercars Championship, Murphy, also has several other jobs. He fronts a regular Sky Network show with Stephen McIvor, is involved with the Holden Street Smart Holiday programme and a variety of other promotional roles.Murphy agreed his sport has improved in recent years. “It went through a downturn a few years ago. Now its producing a good product that people respect.” Murphy has no doubt the advanced technology associated with television coverage has enhanced the product. “Television directors and producers are brilliant at what they do … they put their heart and soul into it.” Murphy was quick to reply when quizzed on the main improvement required for the product. “Reducing the cost hasn’t advanced as much as needed. Some of the lesser operations don’t have the financial resources they need.” In recent years Murphy has got involved in rallying. Because of his commentating duties at this weekend’s round of the Supercars in Perth he will miss the Rally of Northland. During Queen’s Birthday Weekend he will compete in his fourth Canterbury Rally. That’s the weekend after the Hawke’s Bay Sportsperson of the Year function. That will be another occasion when memories from yesteryear will flood back for one of Hawke’s Bay motor racing’s favourite sons. Those days when as an 8-year-old he was taken out to the Hawke’s Bay Karting Club track by his father Kevin. As he said: “Twelve years in karting … such a large part of our lives.”


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