Murphy, van der Drift and Van Gisbergen line up for January’s NZ Grand Prix
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Greg Murphy and Chris van der Drift will join Shane Van Gisbergen on what is turning into a star-studded grid for this year’s New Zealand Grand Prix, being held at Hampton Downs on January 24.
Murphy, a four-time Bathurst winner and television commentator, last competed in the iconic race 27 years ago, when he claimed victory and etched his name on one of New Zealand sport’s most famous trophies.
Since 1950 that piece of silverware has seen legendary drivers like Sir Stirling Moss, Sir Jack Brabham, Graham Hill and Sir Jackie Stewart head Down Under to attempt to win one of just two races to be recognised as Grands Prix outside of Formula 1.
Bruce McLaren, Chris Amon, Fabian Coulthard, Mitch Evans and Liam Lawson have all tasted victory at the iconic race while the almost-immortal Kenny Smith – a three-time race winner – will compete in his 50th attempt at the race at the age of 79.
Murphy won the 1994 race at Manfeild. He headed overseas for a successful Supercars career, but will now return to where it all began.
Van der Drift, a three-time Porsche Carrera Cup Asia champion, is a vastly experienced campaigner and is quick to adapt to different cars.
In 2021 the Grand Prix moves to Hampton Downs – halfway between Auckland and Hamilton – for the very first time.
The unique circumstances of the COVID-impacted season has opened up the possibility of accessing several leading New Zealand stars that would normally be overseas competing this time of year.
“The New Zealand Grand Prix carries so much history and it is going to be really cool getting the chance to compete in it,” Van Gisbergen said.
“While I don’t have any expectations and adapting to driving the cars will take a bit of getting used to, it is going to be a lot of fun and I will give it my best.
“It would be amazing to race alongside Kenny Smith again. That guy is an absolute legend, and it will be neat to say I was there for his 50th Grand Prix.”
Van Gisbergen competed in the 2007 New Zealand Grand Prix while competing in the Toyota Racing Series before he left for his Supercars career in Australia.