ASTC: Lakeside Race Report

BOC GASES AUSTRALIAN SUPER TOURING CHAMPIONSHIP - ROUND 1 LAKESIDE, QUEENSLAND: Race Report, Sunday, April 18 MORRIS & WATTS WIN AT LAKESIDE Gold Coast driver Paul Morris continued his remarkable success at Lakeside Raceway and Briton...

BOC GASES AUSTRALIAN SUPER TOURING CHAMPIONSHIP - ROUND 1 LAKESIDE, QUEENSLAND: Race Report, Sunday, April 18

MORRIS & WATTS WIN AT LAKESIDE

Gold Coast driver Paul Morris continued his remarkable success at Lakeside Raceway and Briton Patrick Watts drove to a historic win for Peugeot in the opening round of the 1999 BOC Gases Australian Super Touring Championship today.

Morris won the first race over 20 laps in a NEMO Racing BMW 320 in dry conditions, and Watts took the chequered flag in race two over 25 laps on a damp track in an ex-works Peugeot 406.

The victory by Morris was his 10th from 11 starts in the championship on the 2.4km Lakeside circuit. The 31-year-old, who formed a new team a month ago, finished second to Watts in race two and now leads the series. Morris previously won the title in 1995 and again two years later driving for BMW Motorsport Australia. In 1998 be competed in the PPG Dayton Indy Lights Championship, before returning to Australia this year. The Lakeside meeting was his comeback to the championship and his debut as a team owner.

Watts provided Peugeot with its first championship win since the inception of the series in 1994. The 42-year-old from Kent arrived in Australia this week and made his debut at Lakeside for the newly-formed Starion Team Peugeot, based in Sydney. The car he drove at Lakeside was raced in the 1998 British Touring Car Championship. The result by Watts was Peugeot's first major motorsport victory in Australia since Maitland's Ken Tubman won the 1953 Redex 6,500-mile Reliability Trial.

Morris won the opening race at Lakeside after leading from start to finish. He completed the event in 18-mins 4.85-secs, finishing 0.85-secs clear of six-times Bathurst 1000 champion Jim Richards in a works Volvo S40. They were followed by Audi Sport Australia team-mates Brad Jones, from Albury, and Victorian Matthew Coleman, who made his championship debut at Lakeside. Sydney's Peter Hills finished fifth in a Team Mondeo Ford and was the leading Independents Cup driver. Watts won pole position for race one, but was unable to start when a fuel injector clip broke on the grid moments before the event began.

Light rain fell throughout the second race. Watts led throughout, closely followed by Morris and they finished in that order with the Peugeot 0.24-secs clear of the BMW at the chequered flag. Richards was third, followed by Jones, Coleman, and Hills, whose car was damaged in the closing laps after colliding with the Toyota Carina driven by Sydney's Milton Leslight.

Morris leads the Drivers Championship with 27 points, with Richards second on 23, Jones third on 18, Watts fourth on 16, and Coleman fifth on 14. Volvo holds first position in the Manufacturers Championship with 30 points, and Audi is second on 24. Hills leads the Independents Cup with 27 points, followed by Briton Jamie Wall on 22. Wall, driving a Honda Accord, was eighth in both races at Lakeside.

NOTE: The race victories by Morris and Watts marked the first occasion both races in any one championship round have been won by non-works drivers. The previous championship race win by an Independents Cup driver was by Steven Richards in race two at Winton in 1995 in a Honda Accord.

DRIVER QUOTES:

PAUL MORRIS (NEMO Racing BMW 320): "It's very satisfying to win a race in my first championship round as a team owner. We've got a good group of guys - we haven't got as many flags or dancing girls as the works teams, but there's nothing wrong with our car and our preparation. The first race went to plan. We got away at the start and I was able to hold Jim (Richards) off and get the win."

PATRICK WATTS (Starion team Peugeot 406): "The first race was obviously disappointing - it was frustrating seeing the car wheeled off the grid in pole position before we even started. It was fantastic to go out later in the day and win. It's my first win in a Peugeot Super Tourer. The car was faultless, and the Yokohama control tyres were consistent. I couldn't be happier."

JIM RICHARDS (Volvo racing S40): "I'd had some reservations about the Yokohama (control) tyres working on the Volvo after testing, but today they were fantastic. In the first race my times didn't drop away. Once Patrick (Watts) and Paul (Morris) bolted in the second race I backed off and settled for points."

BRAD JONES (Audi Sport Australia A4): "After racing the Audi quattros for several years we're still learning about how to get the most out of the front-wheel drive A4. We need more time, but we'll keep improving. I'd expect us to go better at Oran Park (round two of the championship on May 2)."

RESULTS - RACE 1 (20 laps): POS DRIVER CAR TIME 1. Paul Morris (Qld) NEMO Racing BMW 320 18:04.85 2. Jim Richards (Vic) Volvo Racing S40 18:05.70 3. Brad Jones (NSW) Audi Sport Australia A4 18:16.33 4. Matthew Coleman (Vic) Audi Sport Australia A4 18:25.71 5. Peter Hills (NSW) Team Mondeo Ford 18:40.65 6. Mark Williamson (NSW) Volvo Racing S40 18:48.16 7. Jamie Wall (GB) CLS Racing Honda Accord 18:59.49 8. John Henderson (NSW) Henderson Racing Opel Vectra 18:59.73 9. David Auger (Qld) Gun Racing Alfa Romeo 155 18:09.67 10. Luke Searle (NSW) Roadchill Express BMW 318 18:11.77 FASTEST LAP: Morris 53.68-secs LAP LEADERS: Morris 1-20

RESULTS - RACE 2 (25 laps): POS DRIVER CAR TIME 1. Patrick Watts (GB) Starion Team Peugeot 406 23:28.27 2. Paul Morris (Qld) NEMO Racing BMW 320 23:28.51 3. Jim Richards (Vic) Volvo Racing S40 23:47.45 4. Brad Jones (NW) Audi Sport Australia A4 23:53.00 5. Matthew Coleman (Vic) Audi Sport Australia A4 24:12.09 6. Peter Hills (NSW) Team Mondeo Ford Lap down 7. Jamie Wall (GB) CLS Racing Honda Accord Lap down 8. Mark Williamson (NSW) Volvo Racing S40 Lap down 9. David Auger (Qld) Gun Racing Alfa Romeo 155 Lap down 10. Anthony Robson (NSW) Grid Motorsport BMW 318 Lap down FASTEST LAP: Morris 53.61-secs LAP LEADERS: Watts 1-25

DRIVERS CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS (after Round 1): Morris 27, Richards 23, Jones 18, Watts 16, Coleman 14, Hills 11, Williamson 8, Wall 8, Auger 4, Henderson 3, L. Searle 1, Robson 1

MANUFACTURERS CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS (after Round 1): Volvo 30, Audi 24

TEAMS CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS (after Round 1): Audi Sport Australia 42, Volvo Racing 41, Team Mondeo 16, Project Racing 16

INDEPENDENTS CUP CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS (after Round 1): Hills 27, Wall 22, Watts 17, Auger 16, L. Searle 11, Robson 11, Henderson 10, Leslight 6, Rea 6, Cornish 4

NEXT ROUND: Oran Park, NSW, May 2

Mike Porter, mikep@qldnet.com.au

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Series General
Drivers Jim Richards , Brad Jones , Paul Morris , Mark Williamson , Luke Searle , David Auger , Peter Hill , Anthony Robson , Steven Richards , Patrick Watts
Teams Williams