ASTC: Oran Park Sunday Race Report

BOC GASES AUSTRALIAN SUPER TOURING CHAMPIONSHIP - ROUND 2 ORAN PARK, SYDNEY: Race Report, Sunday, May 2 RICHARDS & VOLVO TAKE CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD Multiple Bathurst 1000 winner Jim Richards is the new leader in the 1999 BOC Gases Australian...

BOC GASES AUSTRALIAN SUPER TOURING CHAMPIONSHIP - ROUND 2 ORAN PARK, SYDNEY: Race Report, Sunday, May 2

RICHARDS & VOLVO TAKE CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD

Multiple Bathurst 1000 winner Jim Richards is the new leader in the 1999 BOC Gases Australian Super Touring Championship after dominating the second round of the series at Oran Park in Sydney today.

Richards, driving a works Volvo S40, won both races and scored the maximum 30 points, boosting his championship tally to 55. Englishman Patrick Watts finished second in the two races in a Starion team Peugeot 406 and moved into second position with 40 points.

Queensland's Paul Morris, who had led the championship after the opening round at Lakeside Raceway in Queensland on April 18, dropped to third position with a score of 37 points. Morris scored only 10 points at Oran Park for finishing third in race one. The two-times Super Touring champion was forced to retire from the second race after the half-shaft broke on his NEMO Racing ex-works BMW 320.

Defending champion Brad Jones of Albury finished fourth in race one and third in the second race and is fourth in the title chase on 36 points. His new team-mate, Victorian Matthew Coleman completes the top five in the series with 27 points, and Sydney's Peter Hills is sixth on 23 in a Signature Security Systems Ford Mondeo.

Richards won the first race over 21 laps in 15-mins 40.34-secs, finishing 1.12-secs clear of Watts, who was closely followed by Morris. The trio all led the race at various stages, and on lap 15 they drove three-abreast down the main straight in a charge for first place.

Morris led the opening stages of the second race over 34 laps, and with Richards and Watts broke away from the remainder of the field. After Morris retired a Safety Car was ordered onto the circuit while the damaged half-shaft from his BMW was removed from the track. There was some confusion over lap counting after the Safety Car period and Watts took the chequered flag narrowly ahead of Richards. However, soon after the race Richards was declared winner in 31-mins 27.63-secs, with Watts second 0.26-secs behind. Jones.

Richards' results provided Volvo with its first clean-sweep of a championship round since the Swedish manufacturer entered the series in 1995. Round three of the championship is at Mallala near Adelaide on May 30.

DRIVER QUOTES:

JIM RICHARDS (Volvo racing S40): "The first race was a cracker. There was nothing between the Volvo, and Patrick (Watts) and Paul (Morris). It was good, hard racing. There was a mix-up with the lap scoring in the second race, but everything got sorted out. I entered the pits under normal race conditions. When I came past the pits on the next lap the Peugeot was in for its stop so I knew I was in front. For some reason I was 'bumped' back a few positions. It's good to lead the championship, but it's still too early in the season to get carried away."

PATRICK WATTS (Starion Team Peugeot 406): "It's not often you run side-by-side with two other cars. I saw Jim (Richards) get up the inside of the BMW, so I went further to the left and tried to squeeze through. I had two wheels on the dirt, but I had the momentum going. When I got to the end of the straight it was difficult to pull the car up, and I lost a little time which allowed the Volvo to get the lead back. I would have liked to have won the second race, but it wasn't to be. It's been great fun running competitively in this championship and hopefully I can stick around and do some more races."

BRAD JONES (Audi Sport Australia A4): "I had the best seat in the house when the guys in front of me were going three-wide down the straight - I thought that with a bit of luck they'd all take each other out and end up in the dirt and I'd be leading. Then they sorted themselves out and all of them kept going. My car was consistent today, but not quite quick enough to run with the front three. We have to find more speed."

PAUL MORRIS (NEMO Racing BMW 320): "I had to drive defensively because I didn't have the straight-line speed of the front-wheel-drive Volvo and the Peugeot. When I was leading the first race I knew it was only a matter of time before I'd be attacked. There was contact with the Volvo from behind, and it was just enough to unsettle the car - I had to get off the power and they ran past me down the straight."

RESULTS - RACE 1 (21 laps): POS DRIVER CAR TIME 1. Jim Richards (Vic) Volvo Racing S40 15:40.34 2. Patrick Watts (GB) Starion Team Peugeot 406 15:41.46 3. Paul Morris (Qld) NEMO Racing BMW 320 15:41.75 4. Brad Jones (NSW) Audi Sport Australia A4 15:50.12 5. Peter Hills (NSW) Signature Security Systems Ford Mondeo 15:53.37 6. Matthew Coleman (Vic) Audi Sport Australia A4 15:55.24 7. Mark Williamson (NSW) Volvo Racing S40 16:00.38 8. Dean Canto (NSW) Signature Security Systems Ford Mondeo 16:07.69 9. John Henderson (NSW) Henderson Racing Holden Vectra 16:10.77 10. David Auger (Qld) Gun Racing Alfa Romeo 155 16:15.69 FASTEST LAP: Watts 43.82-secs

RESULTS - RACE 2 (34 laps - Provisional): POS DRIVER CAR TIME 1. Jim Richards (Vic) Volvo Racing S40 31:27.63 2. Patrick Watts (GB) Starion Team Peugeot 406 31:27.89 3. Brad Jones (NW) Audi Sport Australia A4 31:33.07 4. Matthew Coleman (Vic) Audi Sport Australia A4 31:33.60 5. Peter Hills (NSW) Team Mondeo Ford 31:47.65 6. Mark Williamson (NSW) Volvo Racing S40 31:52.83 7. Dean Canto (NSW) Signature Security Systems Ford Mondeo 31:54.61 8. Aaron McGill (NSW) Dux Hot Water Ford Mondeo 32:07.08 9. Roger Townshend (NZ) Project Racing Honda Accord 32:07.67 10. John Henderson (NSW) Henderson Racing Holden Vectra 32:07.90 FASTEST LAP: Richards 43.61-secs

DRIVERS CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS (after Round 2 - Provisional): Richards 55, Watts 40, Morris 37, Jones 36, Coleman 27, Hills 23, Williamson 17, Wall 8, Canto 7, Henderson 6, Auger 5, McGill 3, Townshend 2, Robson 1, L. Searle 1

MANUFACTURERS CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS (after Round 2): Volvo 60, Audi 48

TEAMS CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS (after Round 2 - Provisional): Audi Sport Australia 86, Volvo Racing 83, Signature Security Systems Ford Mondeo 44, Project Racing 29

INDEPENDENTS CUP CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS (after Round 2 - Provisional): Hills 51, Watts 49, Auger 23, Henderson 23, Wall 22, Canto 20, Robson 14, Cornish 12, L. Searle 11, McGill 10, Newman 8, Leslight 6, Rea 6, Townshend 6, Stones 1

Mike Porter, mikep@qldnet.com.au

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Series General
Drivers Jim Richards , Brad Jones , Dean Canto , Paul Morris , Mark Williamson , Aaron McGill , David Auger , Peter Hill , Patrick Watts
Teams Williams