ASTC: Cornish wends Morris' streak at Wakefield Park

Sydney driver Jim Cornish today celebrated his first victory in the BOC Gases Australian Super Touring Championship and the 13-race winning streak of Paul Morris ended at the Wakefield Park Raceway near Goulburn today. Cornish, who made his ...

Sydney driver Jim Cornish today celebrated his first victory in the BOC Gases Australian Super Touring Championship and the 13-race winning streak of Paul Morris ended at the Wakefield Park Raceway near Goulburn today.

Cornish, who made his championship debut at Queensland's Lakeside circuit in 1997, won the first race of the seventh and penultimate round of the series after Morris was forced to retire his previously all-conquering Mount Cotton Estate Winery BMW 320i because of a loose left-front wheel. Gold Coast-based Morris later atoned by winning the second race on the 2.2km circuit.

The victory by Cornish in his Visit Your Vet Honda Accord was remarkable considering he started from 13th position on the grid. The 30-year-old veterinarian provided Honda with it's first championship race win since the victory by Victorian Steven Richards in an Accord at Winton in 1996.

In another notable milestone, Newcastle's Luke Searle recorded his first top-three podium finish since his championship debut in 1999 by finishing second to Cornish in race one in his Roadchill Express-SAE College BMW 320i. Searle led for most of the closing stages until he was passed by Cornish entering the main straight on the penultimate lap.

Tasmania's Tim Shaw clinched the inaugural V8 Future Tourers class title at Wakefield Park. He won the class in the first race in his ISASO-Carplan Holden Commodore, and was runner-up in the second race behind Victorian Ray Sidebottom. The result by Sidebottom was his first class race win of the series in his APS Racing Holden Commodore. Shaw now has unbeatable lead of 58 points in the class over second-placed Victorian Jason Domaschenz going into the final round at Oran Park in Sydney on February 11.

Morris, who had claimed his fourth Super Touring championship title in the previous round at Symmons Plains in Tasmania on December 10, led the opening 14 laps of race one. He began to struggle after temporarily sliding off the track on oil dumped by the APS Racing Holden Commodore of Jason Domaschenz, which suffered an engine failure. Sydney's John Henderson inherited the lead after Morris retired and he appeared on target to win until his Sydney Cranes & Transport Holden Vectra developed power-steering problems and he was forced to slow. Cornish charged through the field, and after passing Searle, he won the 30-lap race in 33-mins 58.75-secs, finishing 0.07-secs clear of the BMW. Tasmania's Owen Kelly was third in a Thermo King BMW 320i prepared by Morris' team.

Victorian James Brock, driving a Biante Holden Commodore, and West Australian Ford Falcon Kerry Wade driver Kerry Wade made contact on the opening lap and both were forced out by suspension damage. Canberra's Mark Zonneveld retired with an engine failure in his Signature Security Systems Ford Mondeo, as did Newcastle's Kiel Johnston because of gearbox problems in the Hi-Tech Motorsport Nissan Primera.

Morris led race two over 28 laps from start to finish and claimed his 14th win from 15 starts in the championship in 29-mins 40.35-secs. He finished with a winning margin of 12.72-secs over Kelly, who was followed by Queensland's Independents Cup champion David Auger in a Leatherman Racing Alfa Romeo. Cornish retired in the closing stages because of rising engine temperatures, and Searle also withdrew toward the finish.

Kelly's consistency left him as the highest points-scorer of the round with 22. Morris clocked the fastest lap at Wakefield Park with a time of 1-min 2.56-secs in race two. Morris leads the Super Touring drivers championship with 223 points, followed by Henderson on 124, and Auger 107. Auger extended his lead in the Independents Cup to 83 points ahead of Searle.

DRIVER QUOTES:

JIM CORNISH (Visit Your Vet Honda Accord): "After four years in the championship it's a tremendous thrill to finally win a Super Touring race. I made a good start from way back on the grid, and then some of the guys up the front started to fall out and have problems. I was close behind Luke (Searle) for quite a few laps, and we were having a good battle for the lead. He ran wide at the right-hander coming onto the (main) straight and I managed to get down the inside and beat him on the exit. I had a slide on the last lap, but recovered, and managed to stay in front. I didn't know it was the last lap until I saw the flag."

LUKE SEARLE (Roadchill Express-SAE College BMW 320i): "We struggled with tyres toward the finish (of race one). I was losing time to Jim (Cornish) in the turns and I couldn't get the power to the ground on the exits. That's what cost me. First would have been better than second, but I can't complain too much because it was still my best-ever result. I think I did as well as I could."

PAUL MORRIS (Mount Cotton Estate Winery BMW 320i): "I went off on the oil and it must have knocked the (left-front) wheel loose. I tried to keep going for a few more laps, but it wouldn't turn so I had to stop. You can't keep winning forever. I'm not usually a good spectator, but those guys put on a good race today."

JOHN HENDERSON (Sydney Cranes & Transport Holden Vectra): "I 've been second to Paul (Morris) so many times this season, so it was disappointing not to be able to take advantage of the situation on the day when he had a problem. We were looking good in the lead, but then I lost the power steering and I couldn't turn the front wheels quickly enough."

TIM SHAW (ISASO-Carplan Holden Commodore): "Winning the (V8 Future Tourers) class is fantastic. Last year I won the Commodore Cup, and now we've moved up to a tougher level and done it again. In the first race I lost radio contact with the pits – I knew I was leading, but I didn't know Jason (Domaschenz) was out and he was the one I had to beat today. We've had some problems during the season, but I've got a great team who keep giving me the best possible car to drive."

<pre> RESULTS - RACE 1 (30 laps): POS DRIVER CAR TIME 1. Jim Cornish (NSW) Visit Your Vet Honda Accord 33:58.75 2. Luke Searle (NSW) Roadchill Express-SAE College BMW 320i 33:58.82 3. Owen Kelly (Tas) Thermo King BMW 320i 34:05.91 4. Peter Hills (NSW) Signature Security Systems Ford Mondeo 34:07.75 2. John Henderson (NSW) Sydney Cranes & Transport Holden Vectra 34:19.79 6. Jamie Miller (NSW) Phoenix Motorsport Toyota Camry 34:21.06 7. David Auger (Qld) Leatherman Racing Alfa Romeo 34:54.47 8. Tim Shaw (Tas) ISASO-Carplan Holden Commodore 34:55.60 9. Sam Dale (NSW) Mumbo Racing Ford Mondeo Lap down 10. Ray Sidebottom (Vic) APS Racing Holden Commodore Lap down 11. Mick Webb (Vic) SVO Ford Falcon Lap down 12. Mark Papendell (SA) Pretty Motorsport Holden Commodore Lap down FASTEST LAP: Morris 1-min 03.05-secs

RESULTS - RACE 2 (28 laps): POS DRIVER CAR TIME 1. Paul Morris (Qld) Mount Cotton Estate Winery BMW 320i 29:40.35 2. Owen Kelly (Tas) Thermo King BMW 320i 29:53.07 3. David Auger (Qld) Leatherman Racing Alfa Romeo Lap down 4. Ray Sidebottom (Vic) APS Racing Holden Commodore Lap down 5. Jamie Miller (NSW) Phoenix Motorsport Toyota Camry Lap down 6. Tim Shaw (Tas) ISASO-Carplan Holden Commodore Lap down 7. Sam Dale (NSW) Mumbo Racing Ford Mondeo Lap down 8. Mick Webb (Vic) SVO Ford Falcon Lap down 9. Peter Hills (NSW) Signature Security Systems Ford Mondeo Lap down 10. Mark Papendell (SA) Pretty Motorsport Holden Commodore FASTEST LAP: Morris 1-min 02.56-secs

DRIVERS CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS (after round 7): Morris 223, Henderson 124, Auger 107, Hills 93, Gurr 87, Searle 61, Kelly 46, Miller 46, Letcher 31, Cornish 30, McGill 26, Downard 14, Zonneveld 13, Dale 13, Bewley 10, Fox 9, Leabeater 8, Newman 8, Saunders 7, Robson 6, Stratton 5, Rolfo 3, Fitzgerald 2

INDEPENDENTS CUP POINTS (after round 7): Auger 203, Searle 120, Miller 97, Letcher 66, Cornish 49, Downard 33, Fox 32, Dale 30, Leabeater 24, Saunders 22, Robson 20, Stratton 8, Rolfo 6, Fitzgerald 6

TEAMS CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS (after round 7): Knight Racing 290, McGill Motorsport 112, Hi-Tech Motorsport 99, Paul Morris Motorsport 96, Motorsport Developments 12

FUTURE TOURERS POINTS (after round 6): Shaw 168, Domaschenz 103, D'Agostin 67, Brock 65, Wade 55, Sidebottom 51, Webb 50, Gillespie 16, Papendell 16, Holt 12

-Mike Porter

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Series General
Drivers Paul Morris , Owen Kelly , Luke Searle , David Auger , James Brock , Peter Hill , Mark Papendell , Kerry Wade , Steven Richards