Greg Murphy all smiles for 'future champions' at NZ Grand Prix

Sat, Feb 4

Greg Murphy knows a thing or two about winning motorsport titles so when he says there's "future champions" on display at this weekend's New Zealand Grand Prix, it's fair to say he's probably on to something.

Murphy, who admits he's lost count of how many New Zealand Grand Prix he's been to in his lengthy career, is back at Hampton Downs this weekend for the 67th iteration of the event.

"I missed a lot [of New Zealand GPs] over the years because I was racing in Australia and that kind of thing but over the last eight or nine years, I've been to quite a few," Murphy said.

"But it's not as many as you might think!"

After a Covid-enforced break last year, numerous circuits will take to the track this weekend including the Toyota Racing Series, Toyota 86 Championship, GT New Zealand and Formula Ford.

It means plenty of rising talent will be on display which the four-time Bathurst 1000 winner couldn't help but grin about.

"That's the way of the world in this sport these days," Murphy said of young drivers bursting on to the scene.

"[The Toyota Racing Series] has been designed and put together and been so successful at bringing through the young talent which you've got to be so young now.

"You've got to make it in a category like this to prove your worth and get that experience to take that step into the big world in Europe or America and it's been so successful at doing that."

First held in 1950, the New Zealand Grand Prix was best known for hosting the Tasman Series in the 1960s and 1970s but since the mid 2000s it has been the signature race of the Toyota Racing Series.

Shane van Gisbergen took the checkered flag at the last NZ Grand Prix in 2021.

Alongside the Macau Grand Prix, it is one of only two FIA-recognised national Grand Prix events that are not part of the Formula One World Championship.

Eight Kiwis will line up in the Grand Prix among the 20 racing including Callum Hedge, who sits just six points behind Toyata Racing Series Championship leader Charlie Wurz with two rounds to go.

"Seeing that kind of level of competition going head-to-head in our greatest race in New Zealand and putting it on the line and hopefully seeing the future champions moving into bigger and better things," Murphy said.

Two female drivers will also line up for the first time since 2007 with American Chloe Chambers and Kiwi Breanna Morris here to show they aren't taking a back seat.

"This is what it's about - proving to the masses and proving to all these team owners that are focusing on the male drivers that there's some girls out there with amazing talent so I love seeing that too," he said.

"Because, really, I don't see in this sport gender being an issue - they just need the opportunities."

And there's plenty of those going around this weekend.


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