ASTC: Lakeside Friday practice

BMW driver Paul Morris emerged fastest in today's opening practice for the second round of the BOC Gases Australian Super Touring Championship at Lakeside Raceway on Sunday, despite struggling with a 40kg weight penalty. Morris, who leads the...

BMW driver Paul Morris emerged fastest in today's opening practice for the second round of the BOC Gases Australian Super Touring Championship at Lakeside Raceway on Sunday, despite struggling with a 40kg weight penalty.

Morris, who leads the series and is chasing a record fourth title, set the quickest lap time of 53.99-secs around the 2.4km circuit in the first of the two sessions in his rear-drive Mount Cotton Estate Winery BMW 320i. The 33-year-old opted not to drive in the second session, and instead returned to his team's workshop on the Gold Coast to experiment with rear shock absorber settings in a bid to improve the balance of his car. Morris is racing with a mandatory 40kg weight penalty at Lakeside after winning all three races in the opening round at Sydney's Oran Park on May 28.

Sydney policeman John Henderson was second quickest in practice at Lakeside with 54.53-secs in a Holden Vectra, followed by Newcastle's Luke Searle with 55.11-secs in a SAE College-Roadchill Express BMW 318i. Both set their fastest laps in the second session. Searle spun off the track into a gravel trap at the end of the main straight on his fifth lap of the second session, but his car did not sustain any major damage.

Brisbane's David Auger, who is second in the championship on 30 points, could only manage the sixth quickest time in his Leatherman Racing Alfa Romeo. Leading NSW drivers Peter Hills (Signature Security Systems Ford Mondeo) and Aaron McGill (Trinovin Nissan Primera), and Perth's Allan Letcher (McGill Motorsport Ford Mondeo) did not practice today. All three will be on the track tomorrow for the two qualifying sessions to determine grid positions for the races on Sunday over 17 and 27 laps.

PAUL MORRIS (Mount Cotton Estate Winery BMW 320i): "Even though we're quickest we are having trouble with the rear of the car because of the extra weight. We're going to re-valve the rear 'shocks' to see if it will improve the balance of the car. If we can't fix the problem we could be in strife with the rear-left tyre after a few laps."

JOHN HENDERSON (Henderson Racing Holden Vectra): "The Vectra is going quicker than when we were here last year, even on 'old' tyres. I can keep the car flat-out through the kink on the main straight and it's drifting nicely right-to-left under the bridge. My aim tomorrow is to put the car on the front-row again, like we did at Oran Park."

LUKE SEARLE (SAE College-Roadchill Express BMW 318i): "The car feels good, but unfortunately I spun on my best lap after going into a corner too deep under brakes. I'm sure I could have done a better time if I hadn't gone off. The BMW is at its best on tracks like this one with high-speed corners."

DAVID AUGER (Leatherman Racing Alfa Romeo): "We're struggling. Today I was almost a second-a-lap slower than last year and we don't know why. We made some changes to the car between the sessions, but my lap times didn't improve. We'll keeping working away tomorrow to try and improve the set-up." <pre> PRACTICE LAP TIMES (Friday): POS DRIVER CAR TIME 1. Paul Morris (Qld) Mount Cotton Estate Winery BMW 320i 53.99-secs 2. John Henderson (NSW) Henderson Racing Holden Vectra 54.53 3. Luke Searle (NSW) SAE College-Roadchill Express BMW 318i 55.11 4. Alan Gurr NSW) Signature Security Systems Ford Mondeo 55.20 5. Jim Cornish (NSW) Visit You Vet Honda Accord 56.33 6. David Auger (Qld) Leatherman Racing Alfa Romeo 57.26 7. Michael Downard (Vic) MDP Racing BMW 318i 59.23 8. Paul Leabeater (NSW) Redline Motorsports Hyundai Lantra 60.02

Mike Porter - mikep@qldnet.com.au

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Series General
Drivers Paul Morris , Alan Gurr , Luke Searle , Aaron McGill , David Auger , Peter Hill