ASTC: Wakefield Park opening practice report

Sydney's Jamie Miller emerged fastest ahead of Newcastle driver Luke Searle in today's opening practice sessions for the fourth round of the BOC Gases Australian Super Touring Championship at Wakefield Park near Goulburn on Sunday. Miller...

Sydney's Jamie Miller emerged fastest ahead of Newcastle driver Luke Searle in today's opening practice sessions for the fourth round of the BOC Gases Australian Super Touring Championship at Wakefield Park near Goulburn on Sunday.

Miller clocked the quickest lap time of 1-min 3.90-secs in the two practice sessions on the 2.2km circuit, which is hosting a round of the championship for the first time. The 37-year-old Toyota Camry driver clearly benefited from testing his front-drive car at Wakefield Park a month ago in preparation for the round. His car had been badly damaged in the previous championship round at Oran Park in Sydney on July 9.

Searle, driving a SAE College-Roadchill Express BMW 318i, was second fastest in today's practice, 0.28-secs behind Miller, followed by Sydney's Peter Hills in a Signature Security Systems Ford Mondeo. Hills' team-mate Allan Gurr, who is second in the championship, was restricted to just five laps because of electrical and gearbox problems. Canberra's Matthew Fox made a satisfactory championship debut and was ninth fastest in a Hi-Tech Motorsport Nissan Primera.

Championship leader Paul Morris did not practice today in his Mount Cotton Estate Winery BMW 320i because of other commitments in Queensland. However he will be on the track tomorrow for the two qualifying sessions to determine starting positions for the two 28-lap races on Sunday. Another frontrunner who missed practice today was Sydney policeman John Henderson. He was at the track, but was unable to drive because of suspension problems with his Sydney Cranes & Transport Holden Vectra. Morris leads the championship with 110 points, followed by Gurr on 60.

JAMIE MILLER (Phoenix Motorsport Toyota Camry): "The testing we've done here helped us get to the front today, but tomorrow will be tougher once (Paul) Morris and (John) Henderson get on the track. A lot of repair work has been done on our car since we crashed in the last round at Oran Park - most of the right rear-end has been replaced."

LUKE SEARLE (SAE College-Roadchill Express BMW 318i): "The track is tight and twisty, with some places to pass under brakes, and I think we can get a good result. My lap times are good, but I had a spin near the end of the second session. Luckily the car wasn't damaged."

MATTHEW FOX (Hi-Tech Motorsport Nissan Primera): "Today is the first time I've driven a Super Tourer. The gearbox and brakes are great - it's a big change to the HQ Holdens and other cars I've raced. I had a spin on the back straight. The back-end stepped out when I was on cold tyres."

<pre> PRACTICE LAP TIMES (Friday): POS DRIVER CAR TIME 1. Jamie Miller (NSW) Phoenix Motorsport Toyota Camry 1:03.90 2. Luke Searle (NSW) SAE College-Roadchill Express BMW 318i 1:04.18 3. Peter Hills (NSW) Signature Security Systems Ford Mondeo 1:04.23 4. Jim Cornish (NSW) Visit You Vet Honda Accord 1:04.38 5. Tony Newman (NZ) TC Motorsport Peugeot 406 1:04.39 6. David Auger (Qld) Leatherman Racing Alfa Romeo 1:05.08 7. Paul Leabeater (NSW) Red Line Motorsport Hyundai Lantra 1:06.58 8. Alan Gurr NSW) Signature Security Systems Ford Mondeo 1:09.46 9. Matthew Fox (A.C.T.) Hi-Tech Motorsport Nissan Primera 1:09.73

Mike Porter - mikep@qldnet.com.au

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