Greg Murphy rates his Bathurst 1000 favourites
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Don't think for a second any driver goes to Bathurst looking to protect their championship position. They are race drivers and they are all there to win.
No matter where you sit in the championship it all gets thrown out the window when you turn up at and have a show of winning it. No-one is thinking championship with 10 laps to go - they will do whatever it takes.
We have seen Jamie Whincup in the past go all-out to win and lose valuable championship points in the process. He did that because winning the great race means so much.
Bathurst was always my priority. In the early years I was a part-time driver so the championship wasn't relevant and in my later years I wasn't in the championship fight.
But if I'm honest even in the early 2000s, when I was in the title battle, I turned up at Mt Panorama ready to do whatever it took to win the race.
I think it is a silly comparing the championship with Bathurst. I don't think it is something the drivers care about, especially when there are as many points up for grabs before the end of the year. If you were going to a lesser round - say they had to go to Queensland Raceway before the end of the year - maybe you might be prepared to settle for second place rather than fight if you have a championship lead but it is irrelevant at Bathurst.
I think there are maybe half a dozen serious contenders. McLaughlin/Premat, Whincup/Dumbrell, and van Gisbergen with Matt Campbell are the obvious protagonists.
Campbell did a really good job at Sandown. That was going to be a bit of a question mark but he smashed it out of the park.
Since Sandown you have added Waters and Stanaway. They are genuinely in contention now because they are both very good drivers that can perform at a very high level throughout the race.
Fabian Coulthard and Tony D'Alberto are contenders - D'Alberto is driving very well.
Mostert is a contender but his weak link is his co-driver compared to those other combinations and I think he would know that now. There are other players but they don't have the back-up from their co-drivers that these other guys have got. Lowndes and Richards for example - I just don't think Richo is at the level some of those other co-drivers. He is reliable but will Lowndes have the tools and be on his game enough to get the job done?
It is incredibly disappointing not being able to do the last two rounds of the New Zealand Rally Championship after all the work the guys have done this year with my Holden Barina.
My replacement David Holder is a very good driver and he knows what to do out there and I hope he can help the team and my teammate Josh Marston and get the best out of what we've got.
Hopefully we can get a result at Rally Waikato.
- Greg Murphy, NZ Herald
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