The 2016 Stadium Finance Repco Westland Rally this weekend has attracted a large field of competitors for the first round of the 2016 Mainland Series. Joining the field will be ex V8 Supercar driver Greg Murphy who will debut a 1979 Vauxhall Chevette 2.3 litre in the one-day rally.
Having enjoyed his first taste of rallying in 2015, Murphy is looking forward to more this season starting with nine Special Stages around Greymouth and Hokitika on Saturday followed by the two-day Rally Otago three weeks later, 9-10 April.
“Our first objective for Westland is to finish,” commented Murphy. “We’ve got a new car which will be totally different to last year and it will be a great preparation for the Otago Rally in April.”
After competing in four rallies in 2015, Murphy has switched to a General Motors product and will drive a 1979 Vauxhall Chevette prepared by Nigel Barclay and Stadium Finance Motorsport team.
“It’s going to be a very different car to last year. The Escort was a fantastic vehicle to learn from, perfect to start the process and I can understand why they are so popular. They give the driver a lot of confidence.
“The Chevette will be very different. There will be a lot more power and the dynamics will be different as well. It’s all a matter of learning and improving.”
Murphy made his rally debut at the Canterbury Rally last June before competing in the Hanmer, Hawke’s Bay and South Canterbury rallies.
“We covered a vast array of terrain last year and took every opportunity to get in the car and learn. I can’t wait for this weekend.
Alongside Murphy will be co-driver Mark Leonard, a top driver in his own right and who won the 1995 Westland Rally.
“We’ve managed to bluff Mark into thinking everything will be great. He’s been a huge part of my learning and improving, so I’m pretty lucky in that respect
“A key for the weekend is the need to take everything at the right speed, control myself, learn the car and continue to improve.”
Last year’s winner’s Darren Galbraith/James Bracefield (Mitsubishi Evo 6) are set to defend their title with some strong competition coming from the 2015 overall champion Blenheim’s Richard Bateman/Sharisse Guckert (Mitsubishi Evo 8), and Cantabrian’s Matt Summerfield/Nicole Summerfield (Subaru WRX), Deane Buist (Ford Escort) and Jeff Judd/Grant Mara (Subaru WRX).
The rally gets underway at 8:00am outside the Greymouth Repco store with the first car finishing at approximately 6:15pm at the Paroa Hotel. Drivers will tackle nine Special Stages comprising 126 km along with 330 km of touring.