Wet weather on Saturday will throw up an additional challenge for ex V8 Supercar driver Greg Murphy as he tackles the 2016 Stadium Finance/REPCO Westland Rally. The Kiwi motor racing icon is set to compete in just his fifth gravel rally and will debut a 2..3 litre 1979 Vauxhall Chevette.
“The forecast is for wet which I haven’t rallied in as yet,” commented Murphy. “I’ve had an incredible run (last year) of great weather with the only difficult part being ice on the Canterbury Rally. However, we never really struck it other than the pre-event ‘recce’ as the car broke down before we got to that stage (of the rally).”
A full field of over 57 cars will tackle the one-day event around the roads of Hokitika and Greymouth. The event is the first of six rounds in the 2016 Mainland Rally Championship.
Murphy hasn’t had time to get acquainted with the Chevette which has only just been readied in time for the event by Murphy’s mate Nigel Barclay and the Stadium Finance Motorsport team.
“It’s a nice car,” commented Murphy. “The boys have done a lot of work; it’s very well done.
“Unfortunately we will have no shakedown before the start. “The rally is the ‘shakedown’ for the car and team. It gives us a day to get used to the car on some really great roads.”
Murphy and the Stadium Finance Motorsport team will compete in a number of events this year including Rally Otago in three weeks’ time.
Alongside Murphy in the co-driver’s seat will be Mark Leonard who won the event in 1995.
“I’ve had no advice from Mark as yet but hopefully he will pass on his wealth of experience,” said Murphy. “‘Lennie’ is a brilliant driver in his own right, quite capable and I’m fortunate to have him there with me in the car.
Murphy has so far thoroughly enjoyed his rally experience after years of circuit racing.
“Everyone who has advice has passed it on so we will wait and see how the day unfolds.
“I’m very fortunate to have the opportunity which I am thoroughly looking forward to.”
Last year’s winner’s Darren Galbraith/James Bracefield (Mitsubishi Evo 6) are set to defend their title with some strong competition coming from the 2015 overall champion Blenheim’s Richard Bateman/Sharisse Guckert (Mitsubishi Evo 8), and Cantabrian’s Matt Summerfield/Nicole Summerfield (Subaru WRX), Deane Buist (Ford Escort) and Jeff Judd/Grant Mara (Subaru WRX).
The rally gets underway at 8:00am outside the Greymouth Repco store with the first car finishing at approximately 6:15pm at the Paroa Hotel. Drivers will tackle nine Special Stages comprising 126 km along with 330 km of touring.