ASTC: Oran Park Friday Practice

Sydney driver Jamie Miller today took advantage of electronic problems encountered by defending champion Paul Morris to emerge fastest in the opening practice for round one of the BOC Gases Australian Super Touring Championship on...

Sydney driver Jamie Miller today took advantage of electronic problems encountered by defending champion Paul Morris to emerge fastest in the opening practice for round one of the BOC Gases Australian Super Touring Championship on Sunday.

Miller, who is making his championship debut at Oran Park, clocked the best lap of 44.05-secs around the 1.9km South Circuit in a Phoenix Motorsport Toyota Camry. The 38-year-old has raced the Camry twice before, in the rain-affected Super Touring endurance race at Bathurst last October, and in the Guia touring car events at the Macau Grand Prix the following month. Miller's time was 1.25-secs outside the race lap record of 42.80-secs set by Albury's Brad Jones in an Audi A4 in 1998.

Morris was prevented from taking part in both practice sessions at Oran Park because of problems with the Electronic Control Unit on the Mount Cotton Estate Winery BMW 320i which he is racing in a bid to win a record fourth championship title.

Newcastle's Luke Searle, whose wife Sarah is expecting the couple's first child on Sunday, was second fastest in practice in a SAE College-Roadchill Express BMW 318i. Searle will start the first of the three races on Sunday from the rear of the grid because religious beliefs will prevent him from driving in qualifying tomorrow.

The 1999 Independents Cup champion, Peter Hills, was third quickest in a Signature Security Systems Ford Mondeo, followed by teenage team-mate Alan Gurr, and David Auger in a Leatherman Racing Alfa Romeo. New Zealander Tony Newman has withdrawn from the Oran Park round because of engine problems with his ex-works Peugeot 406.

DRIVER QUOTES:

JAMIE MILLER (Phoenix Motorsport Toyota Camry): "I'm surprised to be fastest because I've only raced the Camry a couple of times and I'm still learning my way. My main aim this year is the Independents Cup so this is a boost for sure. At the same time Paul Morris and Peter Hills still haven't fired their best shots so we will see what happens in qualifying."

PAUL MORRIS (NEMO Racing BMW 320): “When we started up the engine we noticed a problem with the ECU straight away. As a precaution we decided to do a thorough check through the electronics, which meant we couldn't get out on the track."

LUKE SEARLE (SAE College-Roadchill Express BMW 318i): “The car is turning in and handling much better than last year. We've been helped by Craig Owen, a New Zealander who worked on Craig Baird's BMWs in South Africa a few years ago. He's made a difference, but we've still got some improvements to make to the suspension. At the moment we are going back and forth from oversteer to understeer and we have to find the right balance. I'm keeping my mind on the job regardless of when the baby arrives."

ALAN GURR (Signature Security Systems Ford Mondeo): “My licence to race here was only approved on Wednesday so things have been a rush since then. I had a spin on my first lap, but things went well after that. Things like the sequential gearbox are new to me, and the Mondeo is front-wheel-drive, which is different to the Formula Fords I've been racing." <pre> PRACTICE LAP TIMES (Friday): POS DRIVER CAR TIME 1. Jamie Miller (NSW) Phoenix Motorsport Toyota Camry 44.05-secs 2. Luke Searle (NSW) SAE College Roadchill Express BMW 318i 44.06 3. Peter Hills (NSW) Signature Security Systems Ford Mondeo 44.90 4. Alan Gurr NSW) Signature Security Systems Ford Mondeo 45.22 5. David Auger (Qld) Leatherman Racing Alfa Romeo 46.02

Mike Porter mikep@qldnet.com.au

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Series General
Drivers Brad Jones , Craig Baird , Paul Morris , Alan Gurr , Luke Searle , David Auger , Peter Hill