FRIDAY, AUGUST 22: Sirromet Wines Holden Commodore racer Paul Morris has changed his co-driver and recruited experienced John Faulkner for this year's V8 Supercar Championship endurance events at Sandown and Bathurst.
Faulkner will share driving duties with Morris in the Gold Coast-based team's VY Commodore in the Sandown 500 in Melbourne on September 14 and the Bathurst 1000 on October 12.
The decision was announced today and means Faulkner will replace Brisbane's Wayne Wakefield, who was Morris' team-mate in the endurance races in 2002.
Faulkner, 46, has made seven starts at Bathurst with a best result of fifth in 1997 in a Commodore with Englishman Win Percy. In 2002 Faulkner finished 10th at Bathurst in a Commodore with Rick Bates.
"After considering all the options we felt it was a tremendous opportunity for our team to have John (Faulkner) in the car for the endurance races," said Morris. "He's always been a quick driver, and importantly he has plenty of experience racing V8 Supercars at Sandown and Bathurst."
"Right now I think our car is as good, if not better, than any Holden going around in V8 Supercars, and bringing John into the team is a big plus in our overall package."
Faulkner raced regularly in the V8 Supercar Championship up to the end of 2002. He has not raced this year because he is operating the Holden Young Lions team in the Konica Series.
"We're planning on doing some testing before Sandown so I can get some time in the car," said Faulkner. "I don't think it will take me too long to get up to speed."
"Even though I haven't raced since the end of last season I never actually retired -- I've just been busy with other things and running the Holden Young Lions."
Faulkner said he had been enormously impressed with the performance of Morris' VY Commodore in the past two championship rounds. The car was designed and built by Morris' team and is powered by a Holden Motorsport engine.
Morris marked his debut in the new car by qualifying third and finishing fourth in the Bigpond Queensland 300 at Queensland Raceway on July 20. He also qualified third for the eighth round at Oran Park in NSW last Sunday (August 17).
"I've had a close look at Paul's car in the workshop and the technical aspects and designs are very impressive," said Faulkner. "The car's speed on the track is obvious to everyone, so when this opportunity came up to drive with Paul I jumped at it."
Morris' sole V8 Supercar Championship win to date was at Calder Park in Victoria in 2001. He believes his combination with Faulkner and his new Commodore will provide him with his best opportunity of winning since his previous championship victory.
The 35-year-old said he was encouraged by being able to match the speed of the Pirtek Ford Falcon of championship leader Marcos Ambrose in the opening laps at Oran Park, before he received a 'drive-through' penalty for an illegal start.
"Ambrose is the yardstick for everyone, and when he cleared out at the start at Oran Park I was able to run with him," said Morris. "I'm not saying I could have beaten him (Ambrose), but I think I could have raced him if I hadn't been given the penalty."
"As far as Sandown and Bathurst are concerned we're going there with plenty of optimism."