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Irish team set to take Le Mans 24 hour race by storm

Murphy Prototypes will fly the Irish flag at the world’s most prestigious 24 hour race.

The Murphy Prototypes car in action.
The Murphy Prototypes car in action.
Image: Murphy Prototypes

GREG MURPHY WAS bitten by the motor racing bug from an early age.

His dad Pat used to race for fun at Mondello Park and, like most kids his age, Murphy wanted to follow in his footsteps.

Sadly, aged just 44, Pat Murphy died of a heart attack during a day out at the Co. Kildare venue.

“When you’re that young, it’s difficult to understand what’s going on,” says Greg Murphy, “but my dad died doing what he loves.”

Murphy, who was nine at the time, took a break from motor racing for a decade before returning to the sport.

“I suppose it was always a passion and when I hit 19 or 20, I just thought I’d give it a proper go.”

Murphy’s love of the the sport was matched only by his talent and he enjoyed a successful career in Formula 3 in Asia where he raced for Minardi.

Life though, once again, moved his career in a different direction and he soon found himself as Team Principal of his own endurance motor racing team.

YouTube: MurphyPrototypes

Money would last longer if you burned it

“As happens, I met a girl and settled down so racing wasn’t really an option any more.”

Running a team is a different challenge but that doesn’t mean it’s any less exciting than driving.

“It’s more difficult than driving if I’m honest. You’re not relying on just yourself any more.

“Instead, you’ve to put your trust in a team and establish a reputation. That helps attracts sponsors and cash is everything in this sport.”

Money is something that keeps cropping up in our conversation and it’s no surprise. Motor racing is not cheap.

“To be honest, the money would last longer if you burned it,” laughs Murphy but he’s also aware of how ridiculous the figures involved are.

“There are people starving in the world and here I am talking about crazy money but that’s racing. I mean, you have drivers raising €30 million in sponsorship just to race for a Formula One team.”

Greg Murphy (left) with driver Mark Patterson.
Image: Murphy Prototypes

Murphy Prototypes aren’t at that level of expenditure yet but it will still cost the team €750,000 to race at Le Mans. When you consider they change the tyres and refill their fuel every 45 minutes though, as well as bring a support team of 45 people, the costs soon add up.

“We couldn’t run the team without the support we get from our sponsors like Hertz and STP because it’s a real financial and engineering challenge to run these prototype cars.”

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The hard work paid off in 2012 when Murphy Prototypes became the first Irish owned team to compete in the European Le Mans endurance motor
racing series as well as the Le Mans 24 Hour race

The Murphy Prototypes car in action at Imola.
Image: Murphy Prototypes

The most prestigious endurance race in the world

It was a baptism of fire for the team, qualifying 19th in their Oreca 03-Nissan they actually led the LMP2 category of the race for a number of hours before having to drop out after 196 laps.

This year, Murphy is confident of doing even better. Not only do they have GT driver Mark Patterson at the wheel, but he’ll also be joined by Formula One test driver Brendon Hartley and Lotus Formula One driver Karun Chandhok.

“It’s not going to be easy but I’m certainly going in more with expectation than hope.

“We’re ranked quite highly in our category and I have to admit I’m quite excited about the race, especially with the drivers we have on board,” he says.

There’s no doubting Le Mans is a long way from Mondello or even Formula 3; on the day of the race, 300,000 people are expected to pack into the track and the race will be broadcast into 600 million homes around the world.

However, in Murphy’s voice you can still hear the enthusiasm and passion for the sport that started all those years ago at the Co. Kildare track.

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About the author:

Steve O'Rourke

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