Sunday 18 February 2018

Motorsport: Murphy sure his team is on the right track at Le Mans

Vincent Hogan

Vincent Hogan

Greg Murphy could think of nothing better than to drive his own car this weekend, but finds himself terrified by the thought of where it might lead.

Murphy is the 37-year-old Dubliner running a team in the storied Le Mans 24-hours race and candidly admits: "To be honest, the money would last longer if you burned it!"

It will cost around €700,000 to run the 'Murphy Prototypes' car at Circuit de la Sarthe and, whatever temptation the team owner might have wrestled with to include himself as one of the three drivers, expense decreed he stay sitting in the pit lane.

A successful driver in the Asian Formula Three Championship with Minardi, Murphy retired from the sport in '05 and admits he only fully paid off his racing debts three years ago.

"I'd sacrificed so much," he reflects. "Like I started in Formula Vee around '99 and ended up buying four Fiat Puntos just to keep racing.

"We didn't go on a holiday for 11 years. There was nothing I wouldn't do to go racing. But I'd just put so much into it in the end, was getting too old and was out of money. I had just run out of time. And the real world came knocking."

EMBRACED

Murphy embraced that world first by selling advertising for 98FM, but now runs a successful renewables business in Dublin with interests in biofuels, as well as third generation solar and alternative-powered vehicles.

He caught the driving bug from his late father Pat, a regular competitor at Mondello Park until his untimely death through a heart attack at the Kildare circuit when aged 44.

Murphy was just nine years old that day he watched the passenger door of the family car open and his father literally drop dead before his eyes.

"You never get over that," he reflects. "You just learn to deal with it. But that day will haunt me forever because he was my hero.

"As I say to everyone, he was the best racing driver in the world at the time. At least I thought so."

Murphy's own return to motorsport began in 2011, when he raced a Le Mans prototype around Imola. His lap times brought an invitation to do a season in endurance car racing and it was at that point that he decided to buy a car.

That car led the LMP2 category for five hours through the night at Le Mans last year, running a remarkable fifth or sixth overall, until suspension failure forced the team's retirement with 196 laps completed.

Murphy believes that, with luck, they can win the category this year and he has put his faith in the hands of drivers Brendon Hartley, Karun Chandhok and amateur, Mark Patterson.

Irish Independent

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