BATHURST legend Greg Murphy is enjoying valuable track time aboard a rare Renault GT car in New Zealand, as travel restrictions delay his return to a Supercars cockpit.
The 49-year-old is scheduled to race in the Repco Bathurst 1000 for the first time since 2014 as part of a Boost Mobile-backed, Erebus Motorsport-run wildcard alongside co-driver Richie Stanaway.
Murphy’s preparation included recent laps at Hampton Downs aboard a Renault R.S. 01 that he’s set to co-drive in the upcoming South Island Endurance Series, beginning at Ruapuna on September 4.
Owned and co-driven by businessman Shane Helms, the car was part of a limited batch built by Renault for its Renault Sport Trophy one-make series, contested in 2015 and ’16.
It features a Dallara-developed carbon fibre chassis, fitted with a mid-mounted, 3.8 litre Nissan twin-turbo V6 engine and seven-speed Sadev, sequential gearbox.
The R.S. 01 runs in New Zealand in its restricted GT3 form; having received homologation to participate in selected GT3 races from 2016.
Murphy was set to race the car in the North Island Endurance Series earlier this year, but it did not run due to technical issues.
“It’s taken a little while to get some gear over from Renault Sport in France and from Sadev, the gearbox supplier, but she’s up and running,” said Murphy in a Repco ‘Back to Bathurst’ video.
“It’s like a single-seater with a body on it. It’s a really cool car to drive.
“It’s really good to get behind the wheel again in a car you’ve got to think about when you’re driving to get some miles and get the brain engaged a little bit more.
“They carry a lot of downforce and corner speed, so the neck work I’ve been doing lately is paying off in this car!”
NZ-based Murphy and Stanaway were scheduled to test their Erebus Commodore in Australia earlier this month; a plan scuppered by the closing of the travel bubble between the two countries.
The four-time Bathurst winner expressed hope he and Stanaway can instead test on Australian soil in October ahead of the rescheduled race on November 4-7.
Repco Supercars Weekly: Greg Murphy talks Bathurst return
Speaking to the Supercars website last week, Erebus boss Barry Ryan said that preparation of the Boost Mobile Commodore is continuing amid the uncertainty.
“The bubble is supposed to open on the 17th of September, but I can’t see that happening. New Zealand has got cases now, so it’s all up in the air,” he said.
“But we’re just planning like it’s a perfect world at the moment and hoping that the calendar that we’ve got in place stays in place and that we can get Murph and Richie over here for a bit of testing.”
Supercars meanwhile issued a statement today underlining its commitment to completing five more events this year including Bathurst, in line with a revised calendar announced on July 30.