ASTC: Lakeside Friday Practice Report

BOC GASES AUSTRALIAN SUPER TOURING CHAMPIONSHIP - ROUND 1 LAKESIDE, QUEENSLAND: Qualifying Report, Friday, April 16 MORRIS & WATTS UPSTAGE WORKS TEAMS Independent drivers Paul Morris and Patrick Watts upstaged the powerful works Volvo and...

BOC GASES AUSTRALIAN SUPER TOURING CHAMPIONSHIP - ROUND 1 LAKESIDE, QUEENSLAND: Qualifying Report, Friday, April 16

MORRIS & WATTS UPSTAGE WORKS TEAMS

Independent drivers Paul Morris and Patrick Watts upstaged the powerful works Volvo and Audi teams in today's practice sessions in preparation for the opening round of the BOC Gases Australian Super Touring Championship motor racing series at Lakeside Raceway in Queensland on Sunday (April 18).

Morris, driving an ex-works BMW 320 for a new team he established on the Gold Coast a month ago, emerged fastest in practice with a lap of 53.31-secs around the 2.4km circuit in warm conditions. The 31-year-old previously won the championship as a works BMW Motorsport driver in 1995 and 1997 and has returned to the series this year after racing in the Indy-Lights Championship in the United States in 1998.

Watts was second fastest with 53.43-secs in an ex-works Peugeot 406. The 42-year-old from Kent is racing at Lakeside for the first time after arriving in Australia on Tuesday. His car is being prepared by the newly-formed Starion Team Peugeot from Sydney. Watts raced in the British Touring Car Championship between 1992-97.

The works Volvo and Audi teams, who won all 16 races in the 1998 championship, were led by six-times Bathurst 1000 champion Jim Richards. He was third fastest in a Volvo Racing S40, followed by Audi Sport Australia team-mates Brad Jones, the 1998 champion, and Matthew Coleman. New Volvo Racing driver Mark Williamson was sixth quickest, despite damaging the front of his S40 when he drove into a gravel trap.

Sydney's Jim Cornish escaped injury when his Lyppard Racing Nissan Primera caught fire after an oil line became dislodged. Qualifying at Lakeside will be held tomorrow.

DRIVER QUOTES:

PAUL MORRIS (NEMO Racing BMW 320): "My car is three years older than the works Volvos and Audis so I couldn't be happier. We've been improving the set-up and I've reached the limit for speed. Now we're trying to make the car as consistent as possible. If the others find more speed there's nothing we can do about it."

PATRICK WATTS (Starion Team Peugeot 406): "Lakeside is relatively easy to learn, but there's a couple of places where you have to go beyond the learning and pluck up some courage. The aim now is to put the Peugeot on the front-row."

BRAD JONES (Audi Sport Australia A4): "We're further back than where we want to be. I feel like the man with the wheelbarrow - it's all in front of me!"

MARK WILLIAMSON (Volvo Racing S40): "I went into the gravel trap at the end of the (main) straight. I was too quick through the kink, and too late on the brakes. The splitter and radiator were destroyed so that was it for the day."

QUALIFYING TIMES (Friday): POS DRIVER CAR TIME 1. Paul Morris (Qld) NEMO Racing BMW 320 53.32 2. Patrick Watts (GB) Starion Team Peugeot 406 53.43 3. Jim Richards (Vic) Volvo Racing Australia S40 53.66 4. Brad Jones (NSW) Audi Sport Australia A4 53.79 5. Matthew Coleman (Vic) Audi Sport Australia A4 54.62 6. Mark Williamson (NSW) Volvo Racing Australia S40 55.25 7. Peter Hills (NSW) Team Mondeo Ford 55.35 8. John Henderson (NSW) Henderson Racing Opel Vectra 55.68 9. Dean Canto (NSW) Team Mondeo Ford 55.82 10. Luke Searle (NSW) Roadchill Express BMW 318 56.64 11. David Auger (Qld) Gun Racing Alfa Romeo 56.71 12. Jim Cornish (NSW) Lyppard Racing Nissan Primera 57.38 13. Tony Newman (NZ) TC Motorsport Peugeot 406 57.51 14. Jamie Wall (GB) CLS Motorsport Honda Accord 57.55

Mike Porter <mikep@qldnet.com.au>

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Series General
Drivers Jim Richards , Brad Jones , Dean Canto , Paul Morris , Mark Williamson , Luke Searle , David Auger , Peter Hill , Patrick Watts
Teams Williams