Ex Supercars driver and Bathurst 1000 winner, Greg Murphy, will join the grid of the Formula Ford round at the New Zealand Grand Prix meeting at Hampton Downs Motorsport Park next weekend (3-5 February 2023). The weekend doubles as the opening round of the 2023 NZ Formula Ford Championship and the fifth round of the 2022/23 Giltrap Group North Island Formula Ford Series and will see Murphy driving Shane Drake’s Van Diemen RF92.

“It should be fun,” commented Murphy. “It’s such a historic stepping stone for many of our young drivers. The cars are great to drive so I might as well go out and have some fun.”

The Van Diemen RF92 that Murphy will drive is a Van Diemen Racing factory Marlboro car originally driven by Belgium Vincent Radermecker. Current owner Shane Drake has restored it back to its original condition (old school) with no Stealth modifications that many cars of that origin adopted.

Murphy competed in the category for one season only, over the 1990/91 summer against some top talent including Andy McElrea (Van Diemen RF88), Garry Croft (Swift), Jonathon Harmer (Van Diemen), Ashley Stichbury (Van Diemen), Jason Courage (Van Diemen), Mark Pedersen (Mondial), Nigel Barclay (Swift), Yasuyuki Kimura (Van Diemen), Hirotsugu Kojima (Van Diemen) and Grant Campbell (Swift FB91). McElrea won the title with Murphy finishing third overall.

“I had intended to do more than one season but then ended up in a Formula Atlantic for the 92 summer.”

Murphy had won the inaugural Shell scholarship and initially competed in a Van Diemen RF87 before progressing on to a Van Diemen RF90, an ex-Lorimer car brought into the country for the international part of the NZ Formula Ford season.

“Formula Ford is such a good training ground, particularly for those coming through from kartsport,” said Murphy. “They are lively cars and the racing is incredibly close.  

“It is the obvious transition from karting and a logical progression for karters who are able to quickly adapt. It’s an important category and its great to see such a resurgence in NZ from all the hard work that people are putting into it and the coverage it is now getting.”

A full field over 20 cars is expected to take to the grid for the three-race weekend. The Giltrap Group North Island Formula Ford Series is also supported by Yokohama, the Tony Quinn Foundation and NAPA Auto Parts. 

Caption: Van Diemen RF92 owned by Shane Drake.

Photo Credit: Terry Marshall