Australia: Bathurst 12hr Qualifying Report
“I love this car,” four-time V8 Supercar Bathurst winner Greg Murphy beamed after opening practice in the Trofeo Motorsport Corvette Z06.R, “it’s awesome..” He wasn’t the only one, there were broad smiles all round in the Trofeo pit as a result of Murphy posting the fourth fastest time in that session, just four tenths off the outright pace. “The aero grip is amazing, it just sticks, so you can carry so much more mid-corner speed than a Supercar.”
Whilst Murphy’s lap in the Corvette was another magical moment in his long relationship with Mount Panorama, sadly the venue with he has a special association with bit him in qualifying, and it bit hard. After setting a qualifying time just outside the top five in the opening session, Murphy was on his way back to hand over to team-mates Jim Manolios and Ivan Capelli when he came across the Sherrin BMW 135i in the Dipper.
“I got held up all the way down from the Esses, down through the Dipper, and the run down to Forrest’s Elbow with the BMW sitting in the middle of the road,” Murphy explained. “He clearly didn’t see my car behind, and as we came into the right hand kink heading down to the Elbow, I went down the inside, and he hit me in the back. I’m not really sure what was going on because I thought I gave him heaps of room - there was a massive big difference in speed. Maybe he got a surprise as I went past him and he turned left, I don’t know..
“It tapped the Corvette in the rear and threw it sideways and it ended up in the fence. Those things are always bad, we’ve just got to assess the damage and see how bad it is - but it’s not cosmetic, it’s mechanical. “Look, they’re in the field, it’s the way it is. They’re doing their best as well. It just happens, it’s one of those things - it’s really disappointing. It’s just traffic. You catch slower traffic in some positions where there’s nothing they can do. In this situation there was something a slower car could have done without losing any time, but he sat in the middle of the road, and that was probably the only mistake.”
“The car was going fine up to that point. It clearly doesn’t have the pace of the Mercs or the Lambos, it’s not quite at that level because it’s no the latest model, but it’s cool, it’s good fun. It’s nice to drive and it’s easy to drive, but it’s got a limit.”
“We’ll fix it,” team-boss Jim Manolios confirmed. “Our immediate concern was that the chassis was damaged, and given it’s alloy, we didn’t expect there would be too many aluminium fabricators around, so that was our concern, but it looks okay. We’ve got plenty of parts, so we’ll work to put it back together and see how we go in tomorrows warm up.”
After a solid afternoon repairing the car, the team were on target to make the pre-race warmup and finally allow Manolios and Capelli to turn laps.
“It would have been nice to make the most of that 90-minute qualifying session,” Manolios admitted, “but that’s the way it works out sometimes. I’m still getting comfortable in the car, but I’d like more laps, whereas Ivan is adapting quickly, but he missed a large part of Fridays practice due to illness. He was fine this morning, but we didn’t have the chance to gain any more laps, so now it’s down to the race.
“I’d dearly love to make it through to the final lap tomorrow, because the team has put in such a huge effort, not just here, but also in preparation for the season ahead, so it would be just reward to make the finish.”
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