BMW WORKS SUPPORT FOR MORRIS IN 'THE GREAT RACE' AT BATHURST WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 1: Newly-crowned BOC Gases Australian Super Touring Champion Paul Morris today announced that BMW Motorsport in Germany would supply him with a factory-prepared...
BMW WORKS SUPPORT FOR MORRIS IN 'THE GREAT RACE' AT BATHURST
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 1: Newly-crowned BOC Gases Australian Super Touring Champion Paul Morris today announced that BMW Motorsport in Germany would supply him with a factory-prepared engine for 'The Great Race' at Bathurst on October 3.
The 31-year-old Gold Coast driver said he had received confirmation of BMW Motorsport's support for the 500km endurance event at Mount Panorama since clinching the Australian championship title in the final round at Calder Park last Sunday (August 29).
"BMW in Germany were very pleased with our championship win in Australia, and they've informed me they will prepare an engine for our team to use at Bathurst and give us all the appropriate data," said Morris.
"This is fantastic news, and I'm sure with factory behind us it will give us a much better chance of winning at Bathurst."
Morris won this year's Super Touring championship in a privately-entered ex-works BMW 320i, prepared by the Gold Coast-based team he formed in March in partnership with American-based Australian engineer Tim Neff.
BMW Motorsport previously supported Morris this year by rushing a works engine from Germany to Australia for the NEMO Racing team to use at Calder Park.
Morris, who announced full details of his Bathurst entry today, said he would be his team's sole driver in the 81-lap event around the 6.2km Mount Panorama circuit.
"Based on usual lap times at Bathurst the total race time will be around three hours and I can handle that by myself even though the rules allow two drivers if you want," he said.
Morris, whose BMW is fitted with an 80-litre fuel tank capacity, expects to make two pits stops during the event.
"With the BMW we should get around 36 laps on a full tank, so I'd expect one pit-stop for fuel and tyres, and a 'splash and go' to top up the petrol near the end to get us to the finish," he said.
Morris, who previously won the Australian Super Touring title in 1995 and again two years later as a BMW works driver, confirmed that Neff would break off his commitments in the United States to attend Bathurst.
Neff has been engineering the car driven by Robby Unser in the Indy Racing League this year, and he designed the NEMO shock-absorbers used by Morris throughout the 1999 Australian championship.
"Having Tim (Neff) at Bathurst is a big plus, because he is an expert on car set-up," said Morris. "The 'shocks' he made for us to use this year were crucial in winning the championship because they allowed us to get the most out of the (Yokohama) control tyres."
Morris has made six previous starts in 'The Great Race' at Bathurst since 1991. His best results were in 1997, the inaugural stand-alone Super Touring Bathurst endurance event, when he won pole position as fastest qualifier in a works BMW 320i, and teamed with New Zealand's Craig Baird to finish first in the race. However, the pair were later disqualified because Baird was found to have exceeded the continuous driving limit of 3-hrs and 30-mins.
In 1998 Morris drove a works Audi A4 quattro at Bathurst with New Zealand's Paul Radisich, but they failed to finish. Morris crashed after driving over debris left on the circuit by the Nissan of New Zealand's Ian Spurle.
"I haven't had a lot of luck the last couple of times I've been to Bathurst, but hopefully this will be my year," said Morris. "We have a good team, a competitive car, and with the additional support from BMW Motorsport there is no reason why we can't do very well."
"If we could win the championship and Bathurst double it would be a fantastic finish to my first season as a team owner."
The works Volvo team, spearheaded by six-times Bathurst 1000 champion Jim Richards, announced during August it would enter two cars in 'The Great Race.' Richards finished second to Morris in this year's Australian championship. In 1998 Richards won the Bathurst race with Swede Rickard Rydell in a works Volvo S40.
PAUL MORRIS - PAST RECORD IN 'THE GREAT RACE' AT BATHURST 1991: 13th outright, 1st in Class C (drove Toyota Corolla with Geoff Full) 1992: Did not finish (drove BMW M3 with Denny Hulme) 1993: 15th outright (drove BMW M3 with Jo Winkelhock) 1994: 10th outright, 1st in Class B (drove BMW 318i with Altfred Heger) 1997: Disqualified (drove BMW 320i with Craig Baird) 1998: Did not finish (drove Audi A4 quattro with Paul Radisich)