ASTC: Miller to race updated Toyota

Sydney's Jamie Miller will switch to an updated Toyota Camry from the United States for this Sunday's seventh and penultimate round of the BOC Gases Australian Super Touring Championship at Wakefield Park near Goulburn. The 37-year-old has ...

Sydney's Jamie Miller will switch to an updated Toyota Camry from the United States for this Sunday's seventh and penultimate round of the BOC Gases Australian Super Touring Championship at Wakefield Park near Goulburn.

The 37-year-old has contested four of the previous six rounds in the front-drive Phoenix Motorsport Camry which made its championship debut in 1997 when driven by NSW's Mark Adderton.

Miller purchased the updated Camry in the United States seven months ago from New Zealander Rod Millen, who raced the car in the North American Super Touring Championship in 1998.

The car from the United States was tested by Miller for the first time over 59 laps at Sydney's Oran Park circuit last Saturday (January 20), and he and Phoenix Motorsport team manager Mick Quinn then decided to enter it for the two 28-lap races at Wakefield Park.

"This newer Camry feels sensational," said Miller. "The gearbox is smoother and operates better than the one in the car I've been racing, and the stiffer roll-cage means improved handling through the high-speed corners."

"When the 'new' car arrived from America it didn't have a computer, so that caused a delay in getting it onto the track. We've transferred the (Zytec) engine management system from the 'old' car and everything worked perfectly at Oran Park in the test."

Miller, who is seventh in the championship and third in the Independents Cup, said he hoped the updated Camry would provide him with his first top-three podium finish in the series at either Wakefield Park or in the final round at Oran Park on February 11. He finished fifth and sixth in the two races in the previous championship round at Wakefield Park four months ago.

"The 'old' Camry was quick the last time we were at Wakefield, so I think we can do better this time," said Miller. "I like the track, especially the top section and the downhill run where you've got to be smooth for fast lap times."

Quinn said it was possible his team could enter Goulburn's Con Toparis, an ex-Formula Ford driver, at Wakefield Park in the Camry that Miller had previously raced. Quinn said the decision on Toparis would depend on whether a suitable replacement engine management system could be arranged.

The Wakefield Park round features a changed format, with the opening two practice sessions scheduled for this Thursday, a day earlier than usual, and qualifying on Friday instead of the regular Saturday timeslot.

Kelvin O'Reilly , Chief Executive of championship organisers TOCA Australia, said the practice and qualifying sessions had been moved forward 24 hours because the round would feature the Kumho Wakefield 500 one-make Daewoo race cars on Saturday.

Queensland's Paul Morris will start favourite in the championship races at Wakefield Park after clinching the Super Touring title for the fourth time in the previous round at Symmons Plains on December 10 in his Mount Cotton Estate Winery BMW 320i.

The 34-year-old, who has won all 13 races in the championship, has an unbeatable points tally of 206 and cannot be headed, regardless of results in the remaining two rounds. Sydney's John Henderson is second on 118 points in a Sydney Cranes & Transport Holden Vectra, followed by Queensland's David Auger on 93 in a Leatherman Racing Alfa Romeo.

Also challenging for victory at Wakefield Park will be 24-year-old Tasmanian Owen Kelly, who made a superb championship debut by finishing second to Morris in both races at Symmons Plains in a Thermo King BMW 320i. The car will again be prepared by Morris' Gold Coast-based team.

Sydney teenager Alan Gurr, who is fourth in the championship on 87 points, will make his long-awaited debut in the TC Motorsports Peugeot 406 at Wakefield Park. The 18-year-old drove a Signature Security Systems Ford Mondeo in the opening five rounds and had intended to race the Peugeot at Symmons Plains, but engine problems prevented him from starting.

"Symmons was very disappointing, but we will have a good engine this weekend and I'm keen to get some results and improve my position in the championship," said Gurr.

Tasmania's Tim Shaw leads the V8 Future Tourers class with 140 points in a ISASO-Carplan Holden Commodore, with Victorian Jason Domaschenz second on 103 in an APS Racing Holden Commodore. Shaw, who has finished first in the Future Tourers class in six of the 11 races, needs 26 points races at Wakefield Park to clinch the title.

"It would be good to wrap up the championship this weekend with some more wins, but if we can't then we'll get as many points as we can and try to finish things off at Oran Park next month," said Shaw.

There are 20 entries for the championship races, 14 of them Super Tourers, and six V8 Holden and Ford Future Tourers.

Support categories at the meeting, in addition to the Daewoos in the Wakefield 500 race, include Commodore Cup, HQ Holdens, Super Mini, and Limited Production Sports Cars.

-Mike Porter-

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Series General
Drivers Paul Morris , Owen Kelly , Alan Gurr , David Auger , Rod Millen