Lowndes blew it at Bathurst: Murphy - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Lowndes blew it at Bathurst: Murphy

By Todd Balym 04/10/2006 07:20:10 PM Comments (0)

Holden champion Greg Murphy says Ford rival Craig Lowndes choked at last year's Bathurst 1000 and should have ended Falcon's winning drought at Mount Panorama.

Murphy, whose four Bathurst titles since 1996 makes him the most successful driver in the past decade, believes Ford's highest paid driver blew the Blue team's best chance of winning last year.

Lowndes had the fastest car on the grid and was streaking the field until he clipped the wall in a rookie driving error before the halfway point of the race.

Lowndes, whose only Bathurst win was in 1996 ironically partnering Murphy in a Commodore, finished well back in the field and had to complete the race without front and rear windscreens after a tyre smashed his window in a later incident.

Holden veteran Mark Skaife and Todd Kelly eventually won the race extending Commodore's winning streak to seven years.

Murphy says last year was Ford's best chance of winning the title since Jason Bright's win in 1998, and Lowndes should be stewing over the blown opportunity.

"(Ford) have blown a lot of opportunities in the last couple of years to win that race," said Murphy.

"Lowndesy blew it last year by smacking the wall when clearly he had the best car in the field.

"He should be very much ruing that little mistake. It was the one that really got away.

"He could have broken the drought last year and he didn't."

With this year's Bathurst 1000 a tribute to the late Peter Brock, nine-times champion here, Murphy says it would be fitting for Holden to win the race and not Ford.

"Historically and sentimentally, you'd hope it was a Holden," said Murphy, with the winners to receive the inaugural and perpetual Peter Brock Trophy.

Defending and five-times champion Mark Skaife agrees, saying it's only fitting that Commodore takes the checkered flag on Sunday.

"It'd be much better if it is Holden that win this year," he said.

"It would be a very appropriate tribute for us to win the race at Brock's favourite race track in a Holden."

Murphy, however, has reservations over whether he can lift the trophy on Sunday.

Although he has the best recent record here - with four victories (1996, 1999, 2003, 2004) and two podium finishes (third in 2000 and 2001) in the past decade - his Supercheap Auto Commodore has lacked reliability in 2006.

He and co-driver Cameron McConville have struggled at every championship round but Murphy says everything has be done to ensure the car lasts the 1000km distance this weekend.

"It doesn't matter what kind of year you've had you can always come here and have a different outlook on things," he said.

"Your guess is as good as mine (that the car will last) ... everything that can be physically done has been done."

Skaife meanwhile is only focused on winning, he says victory is the best way to get teammate Garth Tander's championship campaign back on track after mechanical failure cost them victory in the Sandown 500 last month.

"Winning races wins championships," said Skaife.

"The best way to look after Garth's championship is to go and win the race."

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