Despite intense pressure and a damaged car, Greg Murphy took out the feature BNT V8 SuperTourers race at Pukekohe on Sunday.
After being pushed across a kerb when Ant Pedersen passed him at close quarters, Murphy said something went wrong with his Holden.
“The car sledged at the next corner and I thought it might have a puncture,” the winner said. “It was really bad over the hill and at turn one but I decided to keep going.
“It was probably a broken shock absorber. We certainly didn’t have the fastest car.”
Young Aussie Morgan Haber and Aucklander Richard Moore closed right up and Haber hounded Murphy for several laps before the chequered flag appeared. The three all drive Holdens for the M3 team.
“That’s my best result in a high-level category,” a delighted Haber said. “I had a few cracks at Murph but he’s smarter than me and he held me out.”
Simon Evans took fourth ahead of fellow Aucklanders Tim Edgell and Mitch Cunningham, Evans and Edgell in Holdens and Cunningham in a Ford.
Ant Pedersen won the day’s second race in his Ford and at one stage held a big lead in the feature race, pushing hard on a damp track. But as the track dried he and some other drivers pitted for slick tyres and this proved a mistake, as their speed advantage was not enough to make up for the time lost in the pits.
Pedersen finished seventh after the pit stop, and he was also second to Murphy in the first race.
Race two saw Angus Fogg finish first by a large margin but he and several other leading drivers copped time penalties because of infringements in a chaotic start. Pedersen said he was disappointed for Fogg, who was officially second, but would take the victory anyway.
Pedersen’s grandfather, also a great motorsport enthusiast, passed away during the week and he was on the driver’s mind during the weekend. “He was the man and I’ll miss him,” he said.
Murphy was third in that race, his first defeat this season after seven straight victories. Evans was fourth and Aucklander teenager Andre Heimgartner fifth in his Holden.
Race one saw Murphy start third on the grid but winning after passing first Evans and then Pedersen at the hairpin. Pedersen had to settle for second, with Evans third followed by Heimgartner and Fogg.
Murphy now leads the championship by a huge 159 points from Pedersen.
The fourth round, and final of the sprint series, is again at Pukekohe, as part of the V8 Supercar meeting over the long Anzac weekend. The three endurance rounds start in September.
2014 BNT V8 SuperTourers Championship Schedule
Round 1 January 25-26, Fuchs 250, Highlands Motorsport Park, Cromwell
Round 2 February 8-9, Manfeild (New Zealand Grand Prix meeting)
Round 3 March 22-23, Pukekohe
Round 4 April 25-27, Pukekohe (V8 Supercars meeting)
Round 5 September 6-7, Taupo
Round 6 November 1-2, South Island (TBA)
Round 7 November 28-30, Pukekohe
The final three rounds are endurance events