Battle heats up for V8’s minor title positions
The battle is heating up for the minor placings in the 2011 V8 Supercars Championship.
With this year’s champion almost certain to be one of TeamVodafone’s stars Jamie Whincup or Craig Lowndes, some of the focus in the remaining six races of the championship has turned to places in and around the top 10.
The tightest points battle group is between eighth and 14th – all separated by under one race win (150 points).
Those in that tight pack fighting for a prestigious top 10 season finish include Lee Holdsworth, Alex Davison, Jason Bright, Greg Murphy, Steve Johnson, Tim Slade, and Fabian Coulthard.
Of that group, only Bright has passed the chequered flag first this year, but all have had moments of brilliance.
Kiwi hero Murphy is one who has set his sights on a top 10 season place after enjoying a stellar endurance season. With Allan Simonsen, the pair finished 13th (Phillip Island) and third (Bathurst), before teaming with international driver Oliver Gavin at the Armor All Gold Coast 600 to take sixth and fourth.
The results have rushed the Pepsi Max Crew driver up to 11th – and now he is aiming for a top 10 championship finish.
“Barry (Ryan, Murphy’s race engineer) and I have set some goals. We obviously want to end up inside the top 10 in the championship and see how far we can go,” Murphy said.
“There are three spots ahead of us that are very obtainable. I’m sure the guys that have got them at the moment wont want to let them go either, but they are obtainable.”
Murphy, a four-time Bathurst 1000 winner, has endured a number of wretched seasons of late. Between 2001 and 2004, Murphy finished fourth, second, second and fourth in the title respectively, but since then, he has not ended a V8 season in the top 10.
Murphy says the time is right to turn around his recent fortunes.
“It’s not often you get a race driver that says they are happy with a top 10 finish in the championship,” Murphy said.
“But I think considering the last few years and also where we started, with a bit of a slow start for us this year, to finish inside the top 10 would be a fantastic result considering how competitive and tough the whole thing is.”
The V8 Supercars return to the race track this weekend at Symmons Plains, Tasmania, for the Falken Tasmania Challenge.