Thursday, February 22, 2024

Murphy’s the law on this track

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Editor Nick Krause has tumbled from a plane in a static parachute jump, been white water rafting, skied some dodgy terrain, scuba dived and goes bush a lot but he wasn’t really prepared for a Hot Lap

My face doesn’t lie at all in the GoPro video.

Kiwi motor racing legend Greg Murphy – the Dan Carter of V8 Supercars – has the controls of this Holden Commodore VXR, a 3.6 Litre V6 All Wheel Drive.

Murphy makes racing round the Pukekohe Park Raceway look so easy!

A four-time winner of the Bathurst 1000, he was on hand at the track on August 29 for an ITM Auckland Supersprint Drive Day – set up for sponsors, media and other guests.

Greg Murphy at the wheel of a Holden VXR with nervous-looking Times’ editor Nick Krause.

The Drive Day was a prelude to the return of Supercars to Pukekohe Park Raceway on September 13 – 15 for the ITM Auckland SuperSprint.

The Drive Day featured hot laps for those keen to experience the track with a professional driver.

The Hot Laps were in spanking new streetcars representing the current Supercars rivals – a McLaughlin Mustang which was driven by two-time World Touring Car Champion, Paul Radisich and the Commodore VXR by Murphy, aka the King of Pukekohe.

There was also a Q&A Session hosted by Murphy – the ITM Auckland SuperSprint’s Event Ambassador – with Supercars drivers Fabian Coulthard and Jamie Whincup.

I digress. Murph (as I like to call him – and I did) set up the GoPro cam on the dash, posed for an in-car photo with me then headed out onto the race track proper.

Dear Lord. I think I said that a few times. I may have sworn too. Several times. Looking back at the GoPro footage I’m amazed at how many times I looked genuinely horrified.

Murph is all coolness and control, hitting bends and bumps. I’m talking about those black and while raised strips bordering the track that resemble rumble strips but are the size of judder bars. He didn’t blink as our car flew over them and screeched in protest as he accelerated hard into another tight bend.

My senses were annihilated. They couldn’t register what he was doing with this (pretty fancy and very quick) streetcar. I tried to look cool. I failed. The video doesn’t lie.

Murph chats with me at various points in this Hot Lap. Like you would at 50km/h around town. At one point as he’s accelerating way too much toward another bend, he chirps up that we just hit 188 km/h. My brain explodes. Can you ask a race car driver to take it easy?

I didn’t. Is the car supposed to shudder violently and the tyres screech like they’re going to pop right off the rims at every bend?  Murph wasn’t even phased. He even had his hands off the wheel a couple of times as he explained something I couldn’t quite comprehend. I wasn’t listening.

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