Line-up all class in Highlands 101
Kiwi motor racing icon Greg Murphy has landed the plum job of racing a McLaren supercar in its Australian GT Championship debut in New Zealand. ‘‘Murph’’ will be teamed with Aussie motorsport commentator and racer Neil Crompton when the McLaren MP4 12C is rolled out at Cromwell’s new Highlands Park motorsport complex for the Highlands 101 starting on Friday. The car, owned by Highlands owner Tony Quinn, will be configured to the latest MP4 12C GT3 configuration with McLaren engineer Andy Scott flying in from Britain to provide technical support throughout the weekend. ’’Obviously the McLaren is a beautiful piece of equipment and I watched Bairdo [fellow Kiwi racing star Craig Baird] set the Highlands lap record in it in March,’’ Murphy said. ‘‘Both Neil and I are excited to drive the McLaren – with all the wonderful links of the McLaren name for New Zealand motor racing fans – in its Australasian GT debut. There certainly aren’t many other cars like it.’’ Murphy won’t have to long to acclimatise himself to the car with he and Compton’s first time behind wheel of the 3.8-litre twinturbocharged V8 beast being on early Friday. Murphy and Crompton are also expected to pilot the McLaren in the Highlands 101 feature race, joining the 42 fastest cars from any field to contest a unique race for 101 intensely competitive laps of the 4.1km circuit on Sunday. Originally Baird – who has just won his fifth Porsche Carrera Cup Australia crown and his 11th Porsche one-make-series title – was entered to drive the McLaren with Crompton. But he will now pair up with present Australian GT Championship leader Klark Quinn in a Porsche GT3R. ‘‘Craig’s links to Porsche are obviously strong and it fits . . . for Craig to race with Klark in these all-important final two championship races at the opening Highlands meeting,’’ Tony Quinn, Klarks’ father, said. Also appearing will be former Ferrari Formula One driver Ivan Capelli, rejoining Bathurst teammate Jim Manolios in the Trofeo Motorsport Corvette Z06R. The weekend is huge logistically for the Trofeo team, tyre supplier of the Australian GT Championship, as they are bringing almost 700 tyres, equipment and 21 staff from their Melbourne base. Motorsport fans will get to see what is probably the largest array of supercars ever seen racing in New Zealand, including Aston Martin, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Corvette, Audi, Mosler, Porsche, Ginetta and Dodge Viper at the park’s inaugural meet. Support races and classes are the new one-make Toyota TR86 series and the one-and three-hour race fields for the South Island Endur- ance Series which will feature more well-known names. Adding to the mix will be high speed parade laps by the Benetton B191 Ford Cosworth Formula 1 car, bought lately for Highlands Park’s museum.
Famous Kiwi: Highlands McLaren MP4-12C GT to be driven by Greg Murphy and Neil Crompton at the Highlands 101 this weekend.
Behind the wheel: Trofeo Motorsport Corvette driver Ivan Capelli will be racing in Cromwell.