Two-time champion establishes new team to race in BOC Gases series WEDNESDAY, APRIL 7: Dual BOC Gases Australian Super Touring Champion Paul Morris is returning to the series this year in his newly-formed team racing an ex-works BMW. Morris,...
Two-time champion establishes new team to race in BOC Gases series
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 7: Dual BOC Gases Australian Super Touring Champion Paul Morris is returning to the series this year in his newly-formed team racing an ex-works BMW.
Morris, who raced in the United States in 1998, will make his championship comeback in the opening round of this year's series at Lakeside Raceway in Queensland on April 18.
The 31-year-old has established his own team on the Gold Coast, and will contest the eight-round championship in a rear-drive BMW 320i identical to the car in which he claimed his second title.
Morris won the Super Touring title in 1995 and again two years later as a BMW Motorsport works driver, and amassed a record 24 championship race victories and 16 pole positions before moving to the United States and competing in the PPG Dayton Indy Lights category.
He said the car he would drive in this year's championship, raced by former BMW Motorsport team-mate Geoff Brabham in 1997, had performed impressively in a two-day pre-season test session at Lakeside earlier this month when he also evaluated the new Yokohama control tyres for the first time.
Morris recorded a best lap time of 52.9-secs around the 2.4km Lakeside track in the test on the new Yokohama control tyres, and he said he hoped to be competitive in the championship against the works Audi team, spearheaded by 1998 title-holder Brad Jones, and the factory Volvo squad, which includes Jim Richards.
"I think we're capable of winning some races," said Morris. "There are some tracks that will suit the front-drive Audis and Volvos, and others where the rear-drive BMWs might have an advantage. It will come down to being consistent, the same as every year."
"The BMW felt good in testing, but the tyres are different to what we raced on a couple of years ago so we had to change the set-up to get the best out of the Yokohamas. Durability and consistency are the strengths of the Yokohamas and tyre wear doesn't seem to be a problem. I did 50 laps in testing at race-speed and my times only dropped away a fraction so we're looking good."
Morris said his confidence for the opening round at Lakeside had been boosted by the fact he won nine championship races from 10 starts at the track in BMWs between 1995-97.
"Even though my car is now a year or two older than the latest Audis and Volvos, I've won races in BMWs at Lakeside before so if we're going to do well anywhere it should be there," said Morris. "I've always liked the high-speed corners at Lakeside and they suit the BMW."
Preparation of Morris' car will be overseen at the team's Gold Coast workshop by Greg Wooster, assisted by Arch McMurray, Darren Bull, and Simon Chapman.
They will be assisted by American-based Australian designer-engineer Tim Neff, who is Morris' partner in ownership of the team. Neff, who supplies components to Swift and other Indy-car teams from his base in Indianapolis, attended Morris's pre-season test at Lakeside and will be at most championship rounds.
The team's sponsors include Versari - Smart Paper Solutions, which manufactures paper products for printing, Sirrome't Wines, NEMO Shocks, and Mr Jackets.
TOCA Australia - Mike Porter