ASTC: Oran Park qualifying report

Queensland's Paul Morris today extended his lead in this year's BOC Gases Australian Super Touring Championship to 34 points when he won pole position for both races in tomorrow's third round of the series at Oran Park in Sydney. Morris, who is...

Queensland's Paul Morris today extended his lead in this year's BOC Gases Australian Super Touring Championship to 34 points when he won pole position for both races in tomorrow's third round of the series at Oran Park in Sydney.

Morris, who is chasing a record fourth Super Touring title, scored a bonus point for each pole position at Oran Park in his rear-drive Mount Cotton Estate Winery BMW 320i. The 33-year-old Gold Coast driver boosted his championship tally to 80 points, while Brisbane's David Auger is second on 46 in a Leatherman Racing Alfa Romeo.

Morris claimed pole position for the first of the two 23-lap races at Oran Park when he clocked the fastest lap time of 1-min 12.36-secs in the opening qualifying session in fine conditions. He earned the top grid position for race two by recording the quickest lap of 1-min 12.22-secs in the second qualifying session around the 2.6km circuit.

Joining Morris on the front-row of the grid for both races is Sydney policeman John Henderson, who qualified second in both sessions in his upgraded front-drive Sydney Cranes & Transport Holden Vectra. Signature Security Systems Ford Mondeo team-mates Peter Hills and Alan Gurr, both from Sydney, will start race one on the second row. The second row for race two comprises Sydney's Jamie Miller in a Phoenix Motorsport Toyota Camry, and Gurr.

New Zealand's Dwayne Bewley continued his impressive championship comeback by qualifying on the third row in both races in the TC Motorsport Peugeot 406. Bewley, who has not raced in the championship since 1998, is racing at Oran Park as a replacement for the team's regular driver, fellow-New Zealander Tony Newman, who is ill.

Sydney's Jim Cornish will start the first race from the rear of the grid after being excluded from the opening qualifying session. Cornish, who clocked the sixth fastest time in the session, had his lap times deleted because he drove his Visit Your Vet Honda Accord to the pit area while the session was in progress.

Morris won all five races in the previous two rounds of this year's championship. He has now won a record 24 pole positions, all in BMWs, in the championship since his debut in 1994.

PAUL MORRIS (Mount Cotton Estate Winery BMW 320i): "The weather was good today, but the track was still slippery from all the rain they've had in Sydney. Once more rubber goes down the grip will improve for everyone. The BMW is always competitive at Oran Park, so we're aiming for a couple more wins tomorrow."

JOHN HENDERSON (Sydney Cranes & Transport Holden Vectra): "We've had some improvements and repairs made to the front uprights and brakes on the Vectra and it feels fast and strong all around the circuit. The most important thing for me is to try and beat the BMW into the first corner. If I can do that it's going to give me a much better chance of winning."

JIM CORNISH (Visit Your Vet Honda Accord): "There was an unfortunate mix-up on the radio, which has put me at the back of the grid for the first race. One of the guys told me to come back to the pits (in the first qualifying session). He meant return to the pit-lane area, but I thought I had to park the car in the paddock beside the transporter so I did. There was some confusion, but what I did was against the rules so I've got to cop the punishment."

<pre> QUALIFYING - SESSION 1 LAP TIMES (starting positions Race 1): POS DRIVER CAR TIME 1. Paul Morris (Qld) Mount Cotton Estate Winery BMW 320i 1:12.36 2. John Henderson (NSW) Henderson Racing Holden Vectra 1:12.77 3. Peter Hills (NSW) Signature Security Systems Ford Mondeo 1:13.50 4. Alan Gurr (NSW) Signature Security Systems Ford Mondeo 1:13.89 5. Dwayne Bewley (NZ) TC Motorsport Peugeot 406 1:14.06 6. David Auger (Qld) Leatherman Racing Alfa Romeo 1:14.47 7. Jamie Miller (NSW) Phoenix Motorsport Toyota Camry 1:14.55 8. Aaron McGill (NSW) Trinovin Nissan Primera 1:14.89 9. Anthony Robson (NSW) Grid Motorsport BMW 318i 1:15.09 10. Allan Letcher (WA) McGill Motorsport Ford Mondeo 1:15.69

QUALIFYING - SESSION 2 LAP TIMES (starting positions Race 2): POS DRIVER CAR TIME 1. Paul Morris (Qld) Mount Cotton Estate Winery BMW 320i 1:12.22 2. John Henderson (NSW) Henderson Racing Holden Vectra 1:12.71 3. Jamie Miller (NSW) Phoenix Motorsport Toyota Camry 1:12.89 4. Alan Gurr (NSW) Signature Security Systems Ford Mondeo 1:13.45 5. Peter Hills (NSW) Signature Security Systems Ford Mondeo 1:13.55 6. Dwayne Bewley (NZ) TC Motorsport Peugeot 406 1:13.68 7. David Auger (Qld) Leatherman Racing Alfa Romeo 1:14.14 8. Jim Cornish (NSW) Visit Your Vet Honda Accord 1:14.24 9. Aaron McGill (NSW) Trinovin Nissan Primera 1:14.86 10. Anthony Robson (NSW) Grid Motorsport BMW 318i 1:14.98

Mike Porter

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Series General
Drivers Paul Morris , Alan Gurr , Aaron McGill , David Auger , Peter Hill , Anthony Robson