ASTC: Calder Park Preview

BOC GASES AUSTRALIAN SUPER TOURING CHAMPIONSHIP - ROUND 8 PREVIEW: Calder Park, Victoria, Sunday, August 29 BMW Motorsport in Germany has supplied a $150,000 works engine for Queenslander Paul Morris to use in his title-deciding battle with ...

BOC GASES AUSTRALIAN SUPER TOURING CHAMPIONSHIP - ROUND 8 PREVIEW: Calder Park, Victoria, Sunday, August 29

BMW Motorsport in Germany has supplied a $150,000 works engine for Queenslander Paul Morris to use in his title-deciding battle with Volvo's Jim Richards in the final round of the BOC Gases Australian Super Touring Championship at Calder Park in Melbourne this Sunday (August 29).

The hi-tech four-cylinder engine arrived in Australia from Munich on Monday and will be fitted into Morris' rear-drive BMW 320i before the opening practice session on Thursday.

Morris, who previously won the Super Touring title in 1995 and again two years later as a BMW Motorsport works driver, goes into the Calder Park meeting leading the championship with 228 points, while Richards is second on 216 in a front-drive factory Volvo S40.

Morris said he was delighted with the support his non-works team had received from BMW Motorsport in recognition for their 1999 results. The 31-year-old Gold Coast driver has won nine of the 18 races held in this year's championship.

"Originally we asked BMW (Motorsport) in Germany if they could help us rebuild one of our existing engines for Calder, but there wasn't enough time," said Morris. "Instead they have sent us a full works engine in recognition of our achievements this year against factory teams. Hopefully this engine will give us the performance edge we need to get the job done. The engine will be going back to Germany straight after Calder."

Morris said he aimed to win at Calder Park, despite the fact he could claim the title even if he finished second to Richards in all three races.

"I'll be racing to win, because those tactics have worked best for me all season," said Morris. "At the same time, my points lead is big enough so I can be a little conservative if people start getting desperate. I hope it's a good, clean fight with Volvo."

The three races at Calder Park will be over 14, 18, and 27 laps, and the final event will include a compulsory pit-stop for all cars to change two wheels.

VOLVO RECRUITS McLEAN TO HELP RICHARDS IN CHAMPIONSHIP DECIDER

Dual Independents Cup champion Cameron McLean has been recruited into the works Volvo team for Calder Park with the specific task of assisting Jim Richards in his bid for the title. McLean, from Brisbane, will be behind the wheel of the 1997-specification front-drive S40 previously raced by NSW pair Mark Williamson and Mark Adderton in the previous seven rounds.

Volvo is chasing its first championship title since entering the series in 1995. McLean won the Independents Cup in 1997 in a front-drive Opel Vectra, and again the following year in a BMW 320i. This year he switched to racing a Ford Falcon in the V8 Supercar category.

Volvo can deprive Morris of the title if Richards wins the three races at Calder, and McLean finishes second, ahead of the BMW.

"My role will be to ride 'shotgun' for Jim (Richards) by beating Paul (Morris), so it's going to be interesting," said McLean. "Calder is a challenging circuit, but there are a couple of passing spots and some good, long straights that will suit the Volvo."

Richards, who has won seven races in the championship this year, said he expected the Volvo to be competitive at Calder Park.

"It will probably come down to who can find the best car set-up to get the most out of their tyres," said Richards. "I'd expect the BMW to be quicker off the (start) line, as it has been all season, and then we have to find a way through. Having said that, the Audis are also coming on strong so they can't be ruled out."

McLean previously drove for Volvo in a works 850 in the Bathurst 1000 in 1997, finishing fifth with Swede Jan Nilsson.

AUDI TEAM AIMS TO REPEAT 1998 SUCCESS AT CALDER PARK

Audi Sport Australia team-mates Brad Jones and Matthew Coleman aim to finish this year's BOC Gases series by repeating the German manufacturer's domination of the previous championship round at Calder Park in 1998. On that occasion Jones' former team-mate Cameron McConville won both races in a works Audi A4 quattro. Jones, champion in 1996 and 1998, is out of contention for this year's title, but the 39-year-old Albury driver said he and Coleman were determined to complete the championship with a flourish in their front-drive A4 cars.

"Even though we're out of the championship our team is keen to finish the championship by winning some races," said Jones. "We've done well at Calder with the quattro, and we've kept improving the front-wheel-drive cars all season so there's no reason why we can't win."

SUPER TOURING BRIEFS

Newly-crowned Pirelli Porsche Cup Class B champion MIKE KILPATRICK will make his Super Touring debut at Calder Park in a Toyota Carina prepared by Queenslander Malcolm Rea. Kilpatrick has tested the Carina at the Lakeside circuit near Brisbane. The 32-year-old also tested a BMW 318i during the previous championship round at Oran Park. Kilpatrick is in his first year of Porsche Cup racing and clinched the Class B title at Oran Park on August 15.

Sydney's ANTHONY ROBSON expects tough competition from Dean Canto at Calder Park in their battle for second position in the Independents Cup. Robson, who celebrates his 30th birthday on September 4, is currently in third position in the Independents Cup on 128 points, 12 behind Canto, whose Signature Security Systems Ford Mondeo team-mate Peter Hills has already clinched the title with an unbeatable tally of 248. Robson drove a 1993-specification BMW 318i in the opening two rounds, but has become more competitive since switching to a Project Racing Honda Accord. "The Honda is newer and it's given me the chance to move closer to the front in the Independents Cup," said Robson. "I think Calder will suit the Honda because there are plenty of tight corners. Our cornering speed should be better than the Mondeo, but Dean (Canto) could have a speed advantage on the long straight. If I could finish second (in the Independents Cup) it would be fantastic."

Newcastle's LUKE SEARLE, 23, will return to action at Calder Park behind the wheel of the Roadchill Express-SAE BMW 318i. He takes over from elder brother Troy Searle, who raced the car in the past two rounds at Queensland Raceway and Oran Park. Luke Searle is in his first year of Super Touring racing and has contested three championship rounds. The Searle brothers will team up in this year's 'Great Race' at Bathurst on October 3.

New Zealander TONY NEWMAN will make his long-awaited race debut in his new ex-works Peugeot 406 at Calder Park. The car was raced in the British Touring Car Championship by Tim Harvey in 1997, and arrived in Australia in July. Newman had intended to drive the car in the previous round of the championship at Oran Park on August 15, but damaged the front suspension uprights in a crash while testing. Newman said the car had improved performance compared to the Peugeot 406 he has raced in the championship since the start of the 1998 season. "I did about 30 laps in testing at Oran Park in the new car and I was about a second-a-lap quicker," said Newman. "The biggest difference is the balance - the new car feels more stable."

CALDER PARK - SUPER TOURING SCHEDULE

THURSDAY, AUGUST 26: Practice 9am-5pm

FRIDAY, AUGUST 27: Practice 10-10.30am, 12.05-12.35pm, 2.10-2.40pm

SATURDAY, AUGUST 28: Practice 9.30-9.45am, 11.15-11.45am, Qualifying 1.45-2.15pm

SUNDAY, AUGUST 29: Race 1 (14 laps) 10.45am, Race 2 (18 laps) 1pm, Race 3 (27 laps with compulsory pit-stop) 3.05pm

CALDER PARK - FAST FACTS

CIRCUIT LENGTH: 2km

RACE LAP RECORD: 59.18-secs, Paul Morris (Qld) BMW 320i, 1997

1998 RACE WINNERS: Race 1: Cameron McConville (Vic) Audi A4. Race 2: Cameron McConville (Vic) Audi A4

1999 DRIVERS CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS (after round 7): Morris 228, Richards 216, Jones 158, Coleman 140, Hills 101, Adderton 75, Canto 51, Robson 41, Watts 40, Newman 31, Auger 25, Henderson 23, Williamson 17, McGill 15, Wall 8, L. Searle 8, Cornish 5, Townshend 3, Rea 3, Zonneveld 3, T. Searle 3, Elias 1, Leslight 1, Teulan 1, Stones 1

1999 MANUFACTURERS CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS (after round 7): Volvo 249, Audi 225

1999 TEAMS CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS (after round 7): Audi Sport Australia 352, Volvo Racing 338, Signature Security Systems Ford Mondeo 193, Project Racing 100, Paul Morris Motorsport 79, TC Motorsport 40

1999 INDEPENDENTS CUP CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS (after round 7): Hills 248, Canto 140, Robson 128, Newman 108, Auger 95, McGill 64, Henderson 55, Watts 49, Cornish 44, L. Searle 40, Leslight 34, T. Searle 28, Wall 22, Zonneveld 21, Rea 19, Stones 19, Elias 19, Teulan 12, Townshend 8, Letcher 7, Downard 6

Mike Porter mikep@qldnet.com.au

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Series General
Drivers Tim Harvey , Cameron McConville , Jim Richards , Brad Jones , Dean Canto , Paul Morris , Cameron McLean , Mark Williamson , Luke Searle , Peter Hill
Teams Williams