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Murphy grabs opening victory at Pukekohe

19/4/2005 13:39 (Press Release) - New Zealand’s favourite motoring son, Greg Murphy took out the opening race at the PlaceMakers V8 International at Pukekohe Park Raceway today.

Murphy celebrated victory for his new Super Cheap Auto Holden team on his favourite circuit, controlling the opening 100kms race after the early demise of leaders Marcos Ambrose and Craig Lowndes who collided on the third turn of the opening lap.

It was Murphy’s seventh race win at the circuit after a clean sweep in 2001, a single win in 2002 and two wins in 2003 – with the Kiwi claiming the overall round victory in each of those years.

He finished three seconds clear of Russell Ingall (Caltex Ford) and five-time champion Mark Skaife (Holden Racing) in the first of three races this weekend in the second round of the V8 Supercar Championship.

Despite their coming together Ambrose still leads the championship from Lowndes and Todd Kelly (Holden Racing), although stewards were to hold an inquiry into the opening lap incident between the two front-row protagonists.

Queensland’s Steve Ellery (Betta Electrical Ford) finished fourth from 11th on the grid, ahead of Ambrose, who recovered from his opening lap clash with Lowndes to finish fifth.

There was cause for celebration in the Team Kiwi camp when Paul Radisich pushed through from 14th on the grid to finish sixth, to confirm the real gains that the only New Zealand-owned team has made in this year’s V8 Supercar Series.

The much improved surface of the Pukekohe track provided the platform for some spectacular speed with 30 of the 32-strong field going under the race lap record with Murphy more than a second inside the old mark.

However the Kiwi ace is not getting carried away with his victory in front of nearly 30,000 delighted fans.

``It’s a great day today for the team. But we have two longer races tomorrow and they will be a different story,’’ Murphy said.

``We benefited from the drama ahead of us and I managed to get through on the inside of Steven Richards. My team had a great pit stop and we managed to get out ahead of Russell Ingall.’’

Murphy gradually cleared away from Ingall over the closing laps with the Stone Brothers driver holding off a fast finishing Skaife for second.

``It was a good result after a very average Top-10 effort,’’ Skaife said. ``The car was pretty good, still not good enough.’’

Skaife recovered after losing several spots on the start lien and overall was satisfied with the result in a closely fought encounter.

``There was only one second covering the field on race pace and that show how strong the whole field is.’’

Release Date: 16/04/2005