Sirromet Wines Holden Commodore driver Paul Morris improved 19 positions and charged into the top 10 in today's opening race of the 13th and final round of the V8 Supercar Championship at Eastern Creek in Sydney.
Morris started 29th on the grid and finished ninth in the 39-lap race in fine and dry conditions. He completed the event in 1-hr 3-mins 36.414-secs, and clocked a best lap time of 1-min 35.185-secs around the 4km circuit in his VY Commodore.
The 35-year-old from Queensland's Gold Coast had been 12th fastest in practice yesterday, but dropped back to 29th in today's pre-race Shoot-Out qualifying for the entire field.
Morris then had an incident-free race, making a swift start and improving to 17th by lap four. He made his compulsory pit-stop to change tyres at about one-third race distance and by lap 30 he had moved into the top 10.
Pirtek Ford Falcon driver and championship leader Marcos Ambrose won the race in 1-hr 2-mins 46.394-secs. His two main rivals for the championship, Mark Skaife and Greg Murphy, both received 'drive-through' penalties. Skaife finished eighth in a Holden Racing Team Commodore, and Murphy was 24th in a Kmart Commodore. The round will finish tomorrow with a 250km race.
PAUL MORRIS QUOTES: "Considering where we started the result is quite good. The 'Shoot Out' is what hurt us. Yesterday we were close to the top 10 in practice, but in the 'Shoot Out' lap I couldn't get any grip in the front of the car and we dropped back. We had much better car speed than our qualifying position, and that showed in the race. In the first few laps I passed four or five cars and then made up some more positions when some of the other guys had some problems. I kept pushing on, but once we caught the traffic I made the pit-stop for tyres. It was a quick stop -- about 8-seconds. From there it was a good run to the finish. I was able to pass (John) Bowe, Rick Kelly, (Cameron) McConville, and (David) Besnard. It was one of our better races of the season, apart from starting too far back. Tomorrow we've got a good grid position and the game-plan is to keep moving forward. I'm doing consistent lap times, and if we have another decent run tomorrow then a top five result is possible."