An engine failure forced Sirromet Wines Holden Commodore driver Paul Morris to retire from today's first race in the opening round of the 2002 V8 Supercar Championship in Adelaide.
Morris withdrew after completing 58 of the 78 laps in the 250km first leg of the Clipsal 500 on the 3.2km street circuit. He had been in 15th position when he stopped.
The 34-year-old from the Gold Coast started from 29th position on the grid and after four laps he had moved up to 24th. He continued to improve and was 15th when he made his the first of his compulsory pit-stops on lap 34.
On the following lap John Faulkner crashed, which resulted in Safety Car conditions, and Morris made his second compulsory pit-stop. As the race wore on Morris maintained his position, but struggled in the final 10 laps he drove because of a back pain. He said the soreness could be related to his start-line championship crash at the Oran Park circuit in Sydney in mid-2000.
Defending champion Mark Skaife won the race in Adelaide in a Holden Racing Team Commodore in a time of 2-hrs 5-mins 33.366-secs. He was followed by Garth Tander and Greg Murphy, also driving Commodores. Morris' failure to finish today's first race means he will start from near the rear of the grid in tomorrow's second and final leg of the round.
PAUL MORRIS QUOTES: "The engine let go with a 'bang'. I was following (Craig) Baird and I saw him slide in the oil left by Max Wilson's car. I came past the start-finish line and the engine went in the first chicane. I got off the track straight away. There was a gap in the fence where the tow trucks are and I went down there. For most of the race I felt my car was quicker than some of the guys in front of me. However, the engine temperatures were high from the start, so I had to be careful. I couldn't get right behind anyone for long periods of time because I was worried about the temperature of the engine. We're still not exactly sure what caused the engine to fail, but we will be putting in a new one for tomorrow's race. My back was really sore leading up to when I stopped. The pain was in my lower back. I think it all goes back to my big crash at Oran Park a couple of years ago."
<pre> RESULTS - RACE 1 (78 Laps): POS DRIVER CAR TIME 1. Mark Skaife Holden Racing Team Commodore 2:05:33.366 2. Garth Tander Valvoline Holden Commodore 2:05:37.630 3. Greg Murphy Kmart Holden Commodore 2:05:38.637 4. Marcus Ambrose Pirtek Ford Falcon 2:05:39.418 5. Craig Lowndes 00 Motorsport Ford Falcon 2:05:41.437 6. Steven Richards Castrol Perkins Holden Commodore 2:05:49.549 7. Tony Longhurst Betta Electrical Ford Falcon 2:06:49.303 8. Steven Johnson Shell Helix Ford Falcon lap down 9. Todd Kelly Kmart Holden Commodore lap down 10. Jason Bargwanna Valvoline Holden Commodore lap down OTHER: DNF. Paul Morris Sirromet Wines Holden Commodore 58 laps FASTEST LAP: Skaife 1-min 23.720
CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: Skaife 200, Tander 160, Murphy 128, Ambrose 104, Lowndes 88, Richards 80, Longhurst 72, Johnson 64, Kelly 60, Bargwanna 56