ASTC: Macau Paul Morris leads Australian assault

car races this Sunday (November 21) MACAU GRAND PRIX GUIA TOURING CAR RACE PREVIEW: Macau, Sunday, November 21 MORRIS LEADS AUSTRALIAN ASSAULT ON MACAU BOC Gases Australian Super Touring Champion Paul Morris will have the services of his ...

car races this Sunday (November 21)

MACAU GRAND PRIX GUIA TOURING CAR RACE PREVIEW: Macau, Sunday, November 21

MORRIS LEADS AUSTRALIAN ASSAULT ON MACAU

BOC Gases Australian Super Touring Champion Paul Morris will have the services of his highly-rated American-based engineer Tim Neff at the Macau Grand Prix this Sunday (November 21).

Neff will travel to Macau to assist prepare Morris' ex-works BMW 320i for the two 12-lap Guia Touring Car races. This year Neff was engineer for American Robbie Unser in the Indy Racing League, before returning to Australia this month. Neff and Morris are business partners after establishing the NEMO Racing team on Queensland's Gold Coast early this year. Despite being based in the United States for most of 1999, Neff maintained close links with Morris' team during the Australian championship and assisted development of the BMW's suspension and shock-absorbers.

Morris, who finished third in the V8 race for Holdens and Fords at Bathurst on Sunday (November 14), said Neff's presence in Macau would be a boost to his prospects, and would help his team's switch to Michelin tyres after racing on Yokohama control rubber in the Australian championship.

"Tim (Neff) is an expert on suspensions and he will help get the most out of the tyres we will be using in Macau," said Morris. "I've never raced at Macau before so we are on a steep learning curve. BMW have a good record in this race so we're hopeful of being competitive."

Briton Steve Soper won the Macau event on the 6.1km street circuit in 1997 in a BMW, and German Jo Winkelhock repeated the result for the German manufacturer the following year.

Morris, who has won a record 33 races in the Australian championship since 1994, said he expected strong competition at Macau from leading international drivers entered in the event. These include German Michael Bartels, who was seventh in the 1999 German championship, in an Audi A4 quattro.

"I'm sure some of the local drivers will also be quick because they have plenty of experience of the track and the conditions," said Morris.

Apart from Morris, others from the Australian championship racing at Macau include 1999 Independents Cup champion Peter Hills in a Ford Mondeo, Tony Newman in an ex-works Peugeot 406, David Auger in an Alfa Romeo 155, Milton Leslight in a Toyota Carina. NSW's Jamie Miller, who raced in the Bathurst Super Touring event in October, will drive a Toyota Camry in Macau.

Hills said he was keen to erase the disappointments of his previous visit to Macau in 1998 when his team had problems in qualifying and he was unable to race.

"I crashed in qualifying last year after going too deep into a right-hand corner at one of the narrowest parts of the track," said Hills. "The car locked up and I went into a tyre barrier. Unfortunately I didn't get to race so it was very disappointing. Macau is an awesome track. It's difficult to learn and I admire anyone who can put in a good lap there. There's no room for error because if you go off there is going to be major panel damage."

Ansett Australia has assisted with the travel arrangements for the Australian teams competing at Macau.

Practice and qualifying for the touring cars at Macau will be held this Thursday and Friday (November 18-19). The Macau program also features a motorcycle race on Saturday (November 20), and two international Formula 3 events on Sunday.

MACAU - TOURING CAR FAST FACTS

CIRCUIT LENGTH: 6.1km

1998 POLE POSITION: 2-mins 29.341-secs, Jo Winkelhock (Germany) BMW 320

1998 FASTEST RACE LAP: 2-mins 30.794-secs, Jo Winkelhock (Germany) BMW 320

1998 WINNER: Jo Winkelhock (Germany) BMW 320

EVENT BACKGROUND:

Macau is a Chinese Territory under Portuguese administration. The Macau Grand Prix was first held in 1954, and comprises three major international events - Guia Touring Cars, Formula 3, and motorcycles. Past winners of the Guia touring car event at Macau who have also raced in the Bathurst 1000 in Australia include Britons Tom Walkinshaw and Steve Soper, Venezuela's Johnny Cecotto, Italian Emanelle Pirro, and Germans Jo Winkelhock and Frank Biela. Australia's David Brabham won the Formula 3 race at Macau in 1989, and the 1990 winner was dual Formula One world champion Michael Schumacher. American Kevin Schwantz won the motorcycle event at Macau in 1988, five years before becoming 500cc world champion.

-Mike Porter-

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Series General
Drivers Michael Schumacher , David Brabham , Frank Biela , Kevin Schwantz , Johnny Cecotto , Paul Morris , David Auger , Steve Soper , Peter Hill , Tom Walkinshaw