Murphy recaps the Great Race

by Dale Budge

Greg Murphy knows the highs and lows of Bathurst – he has four wins to his name at the famous track but has been bitten by the Mountain on occasion too.

The New Zealander covered the great race for the Supercars Television crew and found himself smack bang in the middle of the drama as David Reynolds found his body failed him while leading the race.

For Reynolds it was heart-break – the Erebus Holden driver had controlled the entire race along with co-driver Luke Youlden and it appeared they were set for back-to-back wins at the Mountain.

“You saw the absolute epitome of highs which Lowndesy and Richo saw and then we saw the epitome of lows with David Reynolds,” Murphy explained.

“It looked like [Lowndes and Richards] were going to finish second but it is never over until that last metre is completed.”

Murphy had to comfort a visibly distraught and drained Reynolds after interviewing him in pit lane after he exited his car and the race had slipped from his fingers.

But down the lane the confetti flew has Lowndes recorded his seventh win at Bathurst – lifting the 44-year-old to equal second on the all-time wins list with Jim Richards – Steven’s father.

Steven Richards collected his fifth win, taking him past Murphy and others into territory where only five other men have ventured.

“They are serious numbers – all the numbers they have combined,” Murphy said. “Steve has the most race starts out of the crop of current drivers. Lowndesy has seven race wins – second equal on the all-time wins list. Steve is getting into incredible space as far as that goes too.”

“It proves that experience does count. It proves that age doesn’t matter.”

“The way they performed means that Bathurst is unique and anything can happen – you need things to fall your way regardless of speed and anything else.”

“Lowndesy has conquered everything there is in the sport – he has over 100 race wins, seven Bathurst titles and championship wins, he has been the face of the sport for a long, long time too.”

But Murphy feels Richards has been almost forgotten in the aftermath – the Australian papers focused on Lowndes’ fairytale finish and almost ignored the work the expat Kiwi did in the same car.

“There needs to be more mention of Steven because Craig couldn’t have done that on his own,” Murphy said. “Let’s not forget that he has five wins on his own.”

“It is a combined effort and no-one should forget that.”

Leading title contenders Shane van Gisbergen (with co-driver Earl Bamber) and Scott McLaughlin (with co-driver Alex Premat) didn’t quite have the pace to match it at the front of the race but secured top five spots to cement their position atop the overall standings.

McLaughlin’s third place finish saw him reduce the margin to Van Gisbergen to 19 points with 900 points on offer across the final three rounds of the championship.

“You’d have to think it was a two horse race,” Murphy said. “You talk about never calling it over until the fat lady sings and that was proven yesterday but it is coming down to the two Kiwi title contenders.”

“There is only 19 points between them now and one hell of a fight on their hands.”

“It would have been a hard day for Jamie Whincup because he would have had a lot of confidence and it looked like he would get some very good championship points but Bathurst giveth and Bathurst taketh away.”

Murphy believes that the battle between Kiwis van Gisbergen and McLaughlin could be decided in front of friends and family at the ITM Auckland SuperSprint at Pukekohe Park on 2-4 November.

“That is shaping as a rip-snorter between the two of them. And don’t forget that Pukekohe is one of only two tracks where Craig Lowndes has not won, so I am sure he will be pushing hard in his last time racing there.”