Paul Morris Albert Park preview

Morris confident after tesing Sirromet Wines VY Commodore. FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 28: A productive debut test in the Sirromet Wines VY Holden Commodore this week has left Gold Coast driver Paul Morris brimming with confidence for his first racing ...

Morris confident after tesing Sirromet Wines VY Commodore.

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 28: A productive debut test in the Sirromet Wines VY Holden Commodore this week has left Gold Coast driver Paul Morris brimming with confidence for his first racing assignment of 2003 in the Netspace V8 Supercar Showdown in Melbourne from March 6-9.

Morris tested the VY Commodore at Queensland Raceway on February 26 in preparation for the three races on the Albert Park street circuit, which are part of the programme at the Australian Formula One Grand Prix world championship event.

The 35-year-old said he was pleased with the performance in testing of the VY Commodore, which was converted from a VX Holden he raced in 2002 and features major technical changes including a double-wishbone front suspension to replace the McPherson strut, and a new aerodynamic package.

During the test at Queensland Raceway Morris drove a total of 79 laps in the VY Commodore, clocking a best lap time of 1-min 11.50-secs, and another 16 laps in a 2002-specification VX Holden.

"Mechanically the VY is different to what we raced last year, but when I did back-to-back tests with both cars it was amazing how similar the front suspension felt," he said.

"I was also encouraged with the way the car (YV) went with the new 'aero kit'. The rear wing and front and rear spoilers arrived the day before we tested, and when we bolted everything on the car was virtually spot-on straight away -- we can carry good speed all the way through the corners."

"Our lap times in the VY were competitive considering we ran around on 'old' tyres, and since it's still early days with development there's plenty of room for more improvement. I'm feeling confident we can do a good job in Melbourne."

The races at Albert Park are not part of the 13-round V8 Supercar Championship, which starts two weeks later with the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide.

"There's a lot of concrete walls at Albert Park so you've got to drive accurately, plus you need plenty of 'grunt' on the long straight," he said. "Since it's the first race of the season everyone will be 'hyped-up' so ideally you want to qualify up the front and keep away from all the mid-field dramas that can happen."

Morris said that the Albert Park meeting would also allow his Gold Coast-based team, which is located at the Holden Performance Driving Centre, to evaluate their ongoing engine development programme before the start of the championship.

"We've been working hard in the off-season with the engines and we've made gains right through the rev range and with top-end speed," he said.

Morris said that in addition to converting a VX Commodore to the 2003 'Project Blueprint' specifications, his team was continuing to work on an all-new YV model which he expected to debut in the second championship round at Phillip Island in Victoria during April.

"That's the plan at this stage," he said. "It's been the busiest off-season we've had, in terms of converting cars and building a new YV at the same time, but our guys have done a great job. This year we're aiming to be consistently competitive and to win races, and our whole team is up for the challenge."

Morris, a four-times Australian Super Touring winner, won his first V8 Supercar Championship round at Calder Park in 2001.

The race distances at Albert Park will be 10 laps on March 7, 12 laps the following day, and 10 laps on March 9. There will be two 30-mins qualifying sessions on March 6.

-pmm-

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Series Supercars
Drivers Paul Morris , Phillip Island