ASTC: Morris wins a Wakefield Park

Queensland's Paul Morris moved to within one win of equalling the record for most victories in a season in the BOC Gases Australian Super Touring Championship with a commanding performance at Wakefield Park in Goulburn today. The 33-year-old...

Queensland's Paul Morris moved to within one win of equalling the record for most victories in a season in the BOC Gases Australian Super Touring Championship with a commanding performance at Wakefield Park in Goulburn today.

The 33-year-old from the Gold Coast drove his Mount Cotton Estate Winery BMW 320i to victory in both races in the fourth round of the championship at Wakefield Park, which hosted a championship round for the first time.

Morris' results left him with nine wins from nine starts in the eight-round championship and extended his lead to 69 points at the halfway stage of the series. He is now just one victory away of equalling the record of 10 wins in a championship season set by Melbourne-based New Zealander Jim Richards in a works Volvo S40 in 1999.

Since Morris made his championship debut in 1994 he has now won a record 42 races, all in BMWs. Yesterday at Wakefield Park he extended his record number of championship pole positions to 28 after qualifying fastest for both races on the upgraded 2.2km circuit.

Morris won the opening race at Wakefield Park over 30 laps in 33-mins 53.31-secs after leading from start to finish. He finished 7.68-secs clear of Sydney policeman John Henderson in a Sydney Cranes & Transport Holden Vectra, who was followed by Signature Security Ford Mondeo team-mates Peter Hills and Allan Gurr, both from NSW. There was a two-lap period under Safety Car conditions to remove the Mumbo Racing Ford Mondeo of Canberra's Sam Dale after it stopped on the circuit.

In the closing stages Henderson closed to within 1-secs of Morris, but then he drove off the track and enabled the BMW driver to cruise to victory. Gurr, who qualified on the front row and appeared set to threaten Morris, made a slow start and was never in contention for the win. New Zealand's Tony Newman withdrew with six laps remaining after a CV joint broke on the end of the right-front driveshaft of his TC Motorsports Peugeot 406. NSW's Aaron McGill was forced to retire because of engine problems with his Trinovin Nissan Primera.

In the second race over 28 laps Morris claimed victory in 29-mins 29.67-secs, and at the finish had a margin of 12.51-secs ahead of Henderson. Hills was again third, followed by Newman. V8 Future Tourer driver Tim Shaw received a 'stop-go' penalty for driving over kerbs.

Morris earned the maximum 32 points from the round and now leads the championship with an overall tally of 142. Henderson, who started the first race from the rear of the grid after failing the ride-height test on his car in qualifying, improved from fourth to second in the championship with an improved score of 76 points. Gurr slipped from second to third on 73 points.

Queensland's David Auger dropped from third to fourth in the championship in his Leatherman Racing Alfa Romeo after finishing fifth and eighth at Wakefield Park. However, he retained the Independents Cup lead with 126 points. Sydney's Jamie Miller was the top Independents Cup driver in the round with fifth and sixth placings, while Geelong's Jason Domaschenz took overall honours in the V8 Future Tourers class in his APS Racing Holden Commodore.

The fifth round of the championship is at Mallala in South Australia on November 12.

PAUL MORRIS (Mount Cotton Estate Winery BMW 320): "In the first race I made a good start, but then we had a Safety Car and the others closed up. Near the end I had mid-corner understeer through the slow turns and John (Henderson) was right behind me. Then he went off the track which took the pressure off. The second race went better. We made some changes to the car and it was more consistent."

JOHN HENDERSON (Sydney Cranes & Transport Holden Vectra): "I thought I had a chance of beating the BMW in the first race, but I braked too late into a circle and ran wide onto the rough stuff. In the second race I had good car speed, but I had a bad run through 'traffic' and lost contact with Paul (Morris). I've now been second six times this season -- it's time I had a win!"

PETER HILLS (Signature Security Systems Ford Mondeo): "It's been a slow start to this season's championship, but today things went better. The first lap of the first race hectic -- there was cars going off everywhere, but I managed to stay out of most of the dramas. I'm pressing on as fast as the car will go, but it's tough."

AARON McGILL (Trinovin Nissan Primera): "We badly needed some points today, but things didn't go to plan. The car ran strongly in the first race until the grip and handling went away, and then it was a struggle. Unfortunately we had an engine problem which ended our day." <pre> RESULTS - RACE 1 (30 laps): POS DRIVER CAR TIME 1. Paul Morris (Qld) Mount Cotton Estate Winery BMW 320i 33:53.31 2. John Henderson (NSW) Sydney Cranes & Transport Holden Vectra 34:00.99 3. Peter Hills (NSW) Signature Security Systems Ford Mondeo 34:18.44 4. Allan Gurr (NSW) Signature Security Systems Ford Mondeo 34:39.07 5. David Auger (Qld) Leatherman Racing Alfa Romeo 34:43.42 6. Jamie Miller (NSW) Phoenix Motorsport Toyota Camry 34:51.18 7. Luke Searle (NSW) SAE College-Roadchill Express BMW 318i 34:56.63 8. Tim Shaw (Tas) Shaw Motorsport Holden Commodore Lap down 9. Jason Domaschenz (Vic) APS Racing Holden Commodore Lap down 10. Christian D'Agostin (Vic) Ted's Camera Stores Holden Commodore Lap down FASTEST LAP: Morris 1-min 2.61-secs

RESULTS - RACE 2 (28 laps): POS DRIVER CAR TIME 1. Paul Morris (Qld) Mount Cotton Estate Winery BMW 320i 29:29.67 2. John Henderson (NSW) Sydney Cranes & Transport Holden Vectra 29:42.18 3. Peter Hills (NSW) Signature Security Systems Ford Mondeo 30:05.23 4. Tony Newman (NZ) TC Motorsport Peugeot 406 30:17.57 5. Jamie Miller (NSW) Phoenix Motorsport Toyota Camry 30:38.22 6. Alan Gurr (NSW) Signature Security Systems Ford Mondeo Lap down 7. Luke Searle (NSW) SAE College-Roadchill Express BMW 318i Lap down 8. David Auger (Qld) Leatherman Racing Alfa Romeo Lap down 9. Sam Dale (A.C.T.) Mumbo Racing Ford Mondeo Lap down 10. Jason Domaschenz (Vic) APS Racing Holden Commodore Lap down FASTEST LAP: Morris 1-min 2.17-secs

DRIVERS CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS (after round 4): Morris 142, Henderson 76, Gurr 73, Auger 67, Hills 53, Searle 32, Letcher 31, Miller 22, McGill 18, Downard 14, Bewley 10, Cornish 10, Leabeater 8, Newman 8, Robson 6, Stratton 5, Fox 4, Dale 4, Rolfo 3, Fitzgerald 2

INDEPENDENTS CUP POINTS (after round 4): Auger 126, Searle 69, Letcher 66, Miller 52, Downard 33, Leabeater 24, Cornish 20, Robson 20, Fox 14, Dale 14, Stratton 8, Rolfo 6, Fitzgerald 6

TEAMS CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS (after round 4): Knight Racing 185, McGill Motorsport 112, Hi-Tech Motorsport 46, Motorsport Developments 12

Mike Porter - mikep@qldnet.com.au

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