ASTC: Paul Morris domintes at Oran Park

Gold Coast driver Paul Morris began his bid for a record fourth BOC Gases Australian Super Touring Championship title by winning all three races in today's opening round at Oran Park in Sydney. Morris, champion in 1995, 1997, and 1999, scored...

Gold Coast driver Paul Morris began his bid for a record fourth BOC Gases Australian Super Touring Championship title by winning all three races in today's opening round at Oran Park in Sydney.

Morris, champion in 1995, 1997, and 1999, scored the maximum 46 points from his three race victories, plus a bonus point for winning pole position as fastest qualifier yesterday. Under new championship regulations, the 34-year-old will be forced to race with a 40kg success ballast in the second round at Queensland's Lakeside Raceway on June 18.

Brisbane's David Auger is second in the championship after scoring with 30 points at Oran Park in his Leatherman Racing Alfa Romeo. Auger recorded his first podium finishes since his championship debut in 1997 when he placed second in race two and third in race three. He was fourth in race one.

Hills, the 1999 Independents Cup champion, is third overall on 22 points. He was first to finish the second race, but was later excluded from the results after Race Director Peter Wollerman found the Signature Security Systems Ford Mondeo driver had breached the code of driving conduct and passed another car under yellow flag conditions.

Sydney teenager Alan Gurr is fourth on 18 points after a memorable championship debut, highlighted by third place in race two. Sydney policeman John Henderson, driving a Holden Vectra, and Perth-based Ford Mondeo racer Allan Letcher are equal fifth on 16 points.

Morris won the first race over 22 laps by 0.87-secs ahead of Henderson after they had swapped the lead at various stages. In the second race, also over 22 laps, Morris was promoted from second to first after Hills was disqualified for making contact with the rear of Henderson's Vectra. Henderson spun out of contention in the incident. The third race was dominated by Morris from start to finish, especially after Henderson clipped a concrete wall entering the front straight and was forced to retire.

Apart from Morris there are four other drivers who will be affected by the success ballast regulations in the second round of the championship. Auger, Hills, and Henderson will receive 15kg ballast for their second placings, and 10kg will be imposed on Gurr for his third.

The leading driver in the V8 Future Tourers class was Tim Shaw. He had two class wins and a second in a Bruce Williams Motorsport Holden Commodore.

PAUL MORRIS (Mount Cotton Estate Winery BMW 320): “That's the perfect start for the championship. The track was slippery and the cool temperatures made things even more difficult. I felt we had the best combination of performance and reliability. It will be tougher at Lakeside, especially with the extra 40kg to carry around."

DAVID AUGER (Leatherman Racing Alfa Romeo): “It's taken me four years to finally get onto the podium so to do it twice in one day was just unreal. I couldn't be happier. I've done what I set out to do for the whole season so now I have to set new goals. Maybe a win is possible? I probably can't match Paul (Morris) for speed, but if he has a problem somewhere and I keep finishing races then it's not out of the question."

PETER HILLS (Signature Security Systems Ford Mondeo): “I made a mistake running into the back of John (Henderson) so I've got to cop the penalty. That's fair enough. The important thing is we showed we can run up the front and we can only get better with more work on the car. I thought my young team-mate (Alan Gurr) showed what an exceptional talent he is."

JOHN HENDERSON (Henderson Racing Holden Vectra): “I led a race in this championship for the first time, so that's a breakthrough. It was good racing with Paul (Morris). The last race was disappointing. Unfortunately I hit the wall and damaged a wheel bearing so I had to stop. It's cost me a lot of points."

<pre> RESULTS - RACE 1 (22 laps): POS DRIVER CAR TIME 1. Paul Morris (Qld) Mount Cotton Estate Winery BMW 320i 19:03.60 2. John Henderson (NSW) Henderson Racing Holden Vectra 19:04.37 3. Peter Hills (NSW) Signature Security Systems Ford Mondeo 19:08.21 4. David Auger (Qld) Leatherman Racing Alfa Romeo 19:19.80 5. Luke Searle (NSW) SAE College-Roadchill Express BMW 318i 19:25.22 6. Jamie Miller (NSW) Phoenix Motorsport Toyota Camry 19:26.92 7. Allan Letcher (WA) McGill Motorsport Ford Mondeo 19:31.21 8. Paul Leabeater (NSW) Redline Motorsport Hyundai Lantra 19:49.00 9. Michael Downard (Vic) MPD Racing BMW 318i Lap down FASTEST LAP: Morris 43.52-secs

RESULTS - RACE 2 (22 laps): POS DRIVER CAR TIME 1. Paul Morris (Qld) Mount Cotton Estate Winery BMW 320i 18:51.98 2. David Auger (Qld) Leatherman Racing Alfa Romeo 18:56.46 3. Alan Gurr (NSW) Signature Security Systems Ford Mondeo 19:09.40 4. Allan Letcher (WA) McGill Motorsport Ford Mondeo 19:09.87 5. Aaron McGill (NSW) Trinovin Nissan Primera 19:16.67 6. Michael Downard (Vic) MPD Racing BMW 318i 19:33.45 7. John Henderson (NSW) Henderson Racing Holden Vectra 19:33.68 8. Paul Leabeater (NSW) Redline Motorsport Hyundai Lantra Lap down 9. Mike Fitzgerald (NSW) MF Motorsport Peugeot 405 Lap down FASTEST LAP: Morris 44.77-secs

RESULTS - RACE 3 (35 laps): POS DRIVER CAR TIME 1. Paul Morris (Qld) Mount Cotton Estate Winery BMW 320i 26:20.81 2. Peter Hills (NSW) Signature Security Systems Ford Mondeo Lap down 3. David Auger (Qld) Leatherman Racing Alfa Romeo Lap down 4. Alan Gurr (NSW) Signature Security Systems Ford Mondeo Lap down 5. Jamie Miller (NSW) Phoenix Motorsport Toyota Camry Lap down 6. Aaron McGill (NSW) Trinovin Nissan Primera Lap down 7. Allan Letcher (WA) McGill Motorsport Ford Mondeo 2 laps down 8. Michael Downard (Vic) MPD Racing BMW 318i 2 laps down 9. Paul Leabeater (NSW) Redline Motorsport Hyundai Lantra 5 laps down FASTEST LAP:

DRIVERS CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS (after round 1: Morris 46, Auger 30, Hills 22, Gurr 18, Henderson 16, Letcher 16, Miller 11, McGill 11, Downard 10, Leabeater 8, Searle 6, Fitzgerald 2

INDEPENDENTS CUP (after round 1): Auger 46, Letcher 30, Downard 23, Miller 22, Leabeater 20, Searle 12, Fitzgerald 6

TEAMS CHAMPIONSHIP (after round 1): Knight Racing 57, McGill Motorsport 52

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
Teams Williams