Kmart Racing duo Greg Murphy and Rick Kelly have emerged from the penultimate round of the V8 Supercar Championship Series in Tasmania with advances in the overall championship and strong race results respectively.

Murphy has moved to second place in the championship after finishing the round in second spot, highlighted by a race victory in the third race.

With championship leader Marcos Ambrose suffering a major engine failure in his Falcon in the final race, the championship is still mathematically achievable for Murphy, who is 151 points behind in second.

Kelly hit back at his recent critics, taking victory in race one and was on target to win the round in the final race, only for an engine problem to stop his Kmart Commodore while in a strong position.

Kiwi ace Murphy, who entered the round third in the championship, has assumed the mantle of the top Holden driver in the series, which is still alive entering the final round at Eastern Creek in three weeks time.

"There were a few other drivers who had done a good job all weekend and had problems in the final race, so that helped us get on the podium," Murphy said. "But we kept doing our thing all weekend. We went out there and raced hard and that last race certainly threw up some curveballs. We had a bit of luck and we were struggling on Saturday, so I'm fairly surprised to have won the last race.

"Our guys in the pits were brilliant. In every race they did a brilliant pit stop and without they great work, it makes it tough. But when they are on fire like they were this weekend, it makes life nicer."

Team-mate Kelly was on target to possibly win the round in the final race, but an engine problem on lap 26 of 42 eliminated him from contention. He won Saturday's opening race and finished second in race two, but felt the weekend was still a successful one.

"There'd been a lot written about me after the Indy event and some of the things that had happened up there," he said. "But it was nice to get back into the race car and show people what I can do. We had a great run for the weekend up until the final race. Even though the championship isn't a possibility for me anymore, we still race each and every race as hard as we can and see where we end up."

In Saturday's opening 42-lapper, a strong pit stop by the Kmart Racing mechanics helped leapfrog Kelly in front of Ambrose when the two made their compulsory tyre change on lap three.

The young gun drove off into the distance until light rain late in the race made the circuit tricky to negotiate. Kelly backed off slightly, holding the gap to cross the line and clinch the win.

Ambrose beat him off the line in the second race and Kelly had to fend off brother Todd to finish in second spot.

Kelly began his weekend with a modified championship points tally, after having 50 championship points deducted for his contact with Jason Bright at the last round on the Gold Coast in addition to a $5,000 fine.

Murphy, meanwhile, generally struggled with his #51 Kmart Commodore in practice, but a solid performance by the Kiwi ace has lifted him into second place in the V8 Supercar Championship Series.

After qualifying eighth on the grid for the opening race, Murphy also had a great pit stop thanks to the Kmart Racing crew, rising to fifth spot.

That all came undone on the final lap when former team-mate Craig Lowndes attacked Murphy at the hairpin, running the Kmart car out wide onto the slippery part of the circuit and he half spun, dropping back to an eleventh place finish.

"I'd been struggling with the rear brakes," Murphy said. "I got out onto the marbles on the exit of the corner and it half spun. It actually caught me by surprise that it did that but it was past the point of no return. It was a good move by Craig, no doubt about it."

Fired up for the second race, the four-time Bathurst champion had a flying first few laps, moving up to eighth before leap-frogging the pack again in the pits, resuming in fourth. He withstood pressure from Russell Ingall to hold the position to the chequered flag before going on to win the final race.

The final race featured a strange scene, with a handful of drivers waved by the Safety Car that hadn't picked up Murphy as the race leader due to pit stops being taken by a group of cars that hadn't pitted earlier in the race.

It caused mass confusion up and down pit lane, leaving Murphy and Kelly fifth and sixth on a race restart after earlier running one-two in the race.



Loading Comments...