Murphy and Holden announce AP4 program for 2017
Former V8 Supercar driver Greg Murphy and experienced rally champion Josh Marston have teamed up to announce a Holden backed two AP4 (NZ spec) car rally program that will contest the 2017 New Zealand Rally Championship.
Two Holden Barinas’ will be prepared over the rest of the year in time to start in the new and exciting AP4 class in April next year.
“I have to be part of it,” commented Murphy. “The new AP4 class is so exciting, it’s not hard to make the decision to be involved.”
Murphy admits to getting the rally bug after making his rally debut exactly a year ago at the 2015 Canterbury Rally.
“I’ve always been a rally fan and admired and respected the skills and talents of many drivers for a long time. Driving last season I got the bug and seeing the new AP4 (NZ spec) cars of Hayden Paddon (Hyundai i20), Glenn Inkster (Skoda Fabia) and Andrew Hawkswood (Mazda2) debut at Otago, the progression to the AP4 class is inevitable.
“I’m not expecting top results but want to be part of it, being involved at the top end of this exciting category of motorsport.”
Thirty-one-year-old Josh Marston from Christchurch comes to the team with a wealth of rally experience. Having started co-driving at the age of 15, Marston won the national two-wheel drive title in 2013 in a Ford Fiesta R2, having finished runner up the previous year. In 2009 he was selected for the NZ Elite Motorsport Academy, finishing top of the class. That year he went on to finish second rookie and junior driver in the NZ Rally Championship.
“The team have been considering for a while where we want to go next in rallying,” commented Marston. “At that time the AP4 class was in its infancy and we started looking at how we could get involved and it has now eventuated in to what we will do in 2017.
“I’m really excited about the AP4 class cars. They are such a lively car with so much potential and it’s brought the excitement back into rallying for both drivers, teams and more importantly for spectators.”
The NZ spec AP4 class has evolved out of an aging fleet of Group N 4×4 Mitsubishi’s and Subaru rally cars. After much discussion and review, it was established that a new and affordable class was needed. A decision was made by Motorsport NZ to follow the principles and specifications of the new FIA R5 car but at a much more affordable cost, ensuring it could be locally constructed from locally sourced components.
The starting point for new cars is still a series production car. Suspension arms, uprights, hubs and turrets are all common control components while shocks and dampers may be freely sourced. Engines must be from the same manufacturer as the model represented and the transmissions must be approved.
The newly formed team will shortly take possession of two production Holden Barina’s which will be stripped down at the RDL Performance workshop in Christchurch. The bare body shells will then be sent north to Force Motorsport for completion of fabrication work and sign off from Motorsport New Zealand. From there the two cars will come back to the team’s Christchurch workshop and the rest of the work will be carried out ready for the start of the new season in April 2017.
“At this stage we are working on sourcing an engine from the GM range,” said Marston. “It looks like it will be an Ecotech 2.0 litre turbo out of an Astra VXR which will end up in the car as a 1.8 litre turbo.”
While Marston is still to make a decision on his co-driver, Murphy will continue with experienced co-driver Mark Leonard.
“The more time Murph has in a rally car he just keeps getting better and better,” commented Leonard. “It’s going to be interesting working up to a four wheel drive vehicle, but he is well capable of it.”
“There’s lots to learn,” said Murphy. “There is plenty to do and it’s great having Josh and his experience on board. We have a great and experienced team around us and we are all really looking forward to competing in next season’s championship.
“At the end of the day it’s all about the enjoyment and we are just so excited about being part of the top end of rallying in New Zealand and having Holden on board.”