Twenty years ago, Greg Murphy got his full-time break in the Australian Touring Car Championship following Craig Lowndes' departure to Europe. It was the start of a glittering, sometimes controversial but always interesting career that intensified the generational change and the connection between talented Kiwis and our sport, as we examine in V8X Supercar Magazine issue #101.
Issue #101 is on sale now in stores with the digital edition available in the official V8X app (in the App Store and Google Play), online at DigitalEdition.V8XMagazine.com.au and in the Magzter app store.
CLICK HERE for more information on issue #101.
Murphy was a new face on Australian motorsport scene in 1995 but soon the premier category, Group 3A touring cars as it was then known, was knocking at his door.
He was by now firmly part of the Super Touring 'family', at a time when there were tensions between V8 and Super Touring worlds, but it wasn't an opportunity he was about to pass up.
"There was a lot of politics, people saying this and believing that, but at the end of the day Bathurst was the race and the heroes were still Peter Brock, Dick Johnson, John Bowe, Larry Perkins, Glenn Seton, Mark Skaife and all those guys," says Murphy.
"That was still where it was at in Australia, so when I got the call from the Holden Racing Team (HRT) to do the enduros in 1995 it was a pretty amazing and surreal moment."
Murphy's maiden V8 enduro campaign was forgettable – retirements at both Sandown and Bathurst – but the experience of turning up to Mount Panorama for the first time in a front-running car is still clear in his mind, what with the mania that year over teammate Lowndes, who was returning for the first time since his surprise runner-up result in 1994.
"The first time I ever saw the place was when I drove the Carina in 1994. That was like, 'Holy crap, what I have I got myself into?'" he says.
"But turning up a year later in a Group 3A touring car, that was massive pressure. Lowndesy was a big focus, he was this kid who'd just taken the world by storm. I was just trying to keep up and it was not easy."
The pair's 1996 enduro campaign has gone down in legend – victory at Sandown and Bathurst for the pair, ushering in the age of the young gun.
1996 put Murphy on the Australian touring-car map and made him a star in New Zealand, a status he really got to bask in when the V8 circus rolled across the Tasman late that year for the Wellington and Pukekohe non- championship races that ran at the time ahead of his promotion into the team full-time from 1997 in place of Europe-bound Lowndes.
"Here I was with a HRT car and Peter Brock as my teammate, and it was my car, with just my name on the door," he says.
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