Greg Murphy will miss the first round of the V8 Supercar Championship Series at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit due to a conflicting date clash in New Zealand.
Murphy, recently announced as the new driver of the Castrol Commodore for Paul Morris Motorsport, has a commitment clash with his role in the New Zealand version of the Top Gear Live stage show.
The four-time Bathurst winner has been forced to honour his agreement with the popular Top Gear Live show, forcing him to surrender his position on the grid at the inaugural Abu Dhabi V8 Supercar race.
The Top Gear Live shows will be run over four days at the ASB Showgrounds in Auckland between February 18-21.
Murphy will be replaced by team-owner Paul Morris in the #51 Castrol Commodore VE.
The Kiwi star will now make his debut in the Castrol Commodore at the second round of the V8 series – a week later in the second round at the Bahrain International Circuit.
Team owner Morris told Speedcafe.com.au that the clash was unfortunate, but a resolution between all parties was easily found.
“Before we entered into agreements with Greg and the sponsors, everyone was aware of it,” he said.
“He’s got commitments elsewhere, so we’re just planned around that and I’ll drive the car.”
Castrol is a new sponsor to the Queensland-based PMM, teaming up with the Supercheap Auto Commodore of Russell Ingall.
Morris said that Castrol was aware of Murphy’s date clash from the early stages of their sponsorship negotiations.
“Castrol has been well aware of the situation – we’re not into taking people on mystery tours,” he said.
“When Murph’s name was mentioned as a candidate for the job, they were told that there was a good chance that he wouldn’t be at the first round. They were happy with that. They know about it. It’s no surprises to them.”
Murph’s absence gives Morris the chance to “blow some cobwebs out.”
“I’d rather Murph drive the thing, to tell you the truth, but at least it gives me the opportunity to look at the track and blow some cobwebs out,” he said.
“I think I’ll go fine. The last race I did, I came seventh (Bathurst 1000 with Tim Slade) and the last sprint race I did I finished in the top 10 (Oran Park 2008). I don’t think I’ve lost any of my speed. I’m looking forward to having a drive.
“I know I’m not going there for an audition, so I’m not going there to tear any of the gear up. We need to have the thing ready for Murph to drive the next weekend at Bahrain.
“I haven’t been to Abu Dhabi before, and everyone’s raving on about it, so it will be nice to go check it out. Obviously, it’s the best place in the world, they reckon, so to be over there and be a part of it will be pretty good.”
Murphy is currently on holidays in New Zealand and will return to Australia later this month in time of the first test at Queensland Raceway on February 9 before heading back to his homeland to host the Top Gear Live shows with regular UK Top Gear hosts Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond.