V8 SUPERCAR CHAMPIONSHIP - ROUND 1 (CLIPSAL 500) Adelaide, South Australia, March 15-17 MORRIS DELAYS DEBUT OF NEW V8 COMMODORE Sirromet Wines Holden driver Paul Morris has decided to delay the debut of his new 'in-house' built VX Commodore ...
V8 SUPERCAR CHAMPIONSHIP - ROUND 1 (CLIPSAL 500)
Adelaide, South Australia, March 15-17
MORRIS DELAYS DEBUT OF NEW V8 COMMODORE
Sirromet Wines Holden driver Paul Morris has decided to delay the debut of his new 'in-house' built VX Commodore until after this weekend's opening round of the 2002 V8 Supercar Championship in Adelaide.
Morris said today he would contest the two 250km street races in Adelaide this Saturday and Sunday in the first VX Commodore designed and built by his team, which he drove in the closing stages of the 2001 championship and in the V8 Supercar support races at the Australian Formula One Grand Prix at Albert Park in Melbourne from March 1-3.
The 34-year-old from the Gold Coast had originally planned to drive the new Commodore in Adelaide, but will instead race the car for the first time in the second championship round at Phillip Island in Victoria on April 14.
Morris said the decision had been made because he wanted more track-testing time in the new car before racing it in the championship.
"This new car is the second one we've built in-house, and I'm sure it would have been quick if we'd raced it in Adelaide," said Morris.
"However, this weekend is about endurance and getting through one of the toughest championship rounds, so we've decided not to take risks and run the older, race-proven package until we do more testing in the new car."
"We're trying to eliminate as many risks as possible because reliability is the key in Adelaide - our aim is to be there at the finish of both races because there are big points to be scored."
The two races on the 3.2km Adelaide street circuit are worth 200 championship points to the winner of each, a tally bettered in only three other rounds, in race three of the Canberra 400 (240 points), and in the Queensland 500 and the V8 Supercar 1000 at Bathurst (both 400 points).
Morris said his decision on which Commodore to race this weekend was also influenced by difficulties he encountered in the V8 Supercar races at Albert Park trying to establish suitable car settings to gain optimum performance from the new Dunlop control tyres introduced this year.
He tested the control tyres again today over about 100 laps at the Queensland Raceway circuit near Brisbane.
"We never got the car to work the tyres the way we wanted in Melbourne so that's what we concentrated on in today's test, and there's more work to do in Adelaide," said Morris.
"It would have been hard this weekend trying to dial in a new car, as well as chasing better grip."
"The way we've gone means we can work on the set-up with the tyres and not worry about the car because we know it will do the job."
Morris, who broke through for his first V8 Supercar championship win at Calder Park in 2001, said the Adelaide races were the most physically demanding in the 13-round series.
"The heat builds up racing between the concrete walls and it's very physical on the driver," he said.
"There's nowhere to rest on this track because you're always doing something -- unlike Bathurst where you can have a breather going up Mountain Straight and coming back down Conrod."
Morris said that apart from chasing a large championship points haul in Adelaide he was also keen to perform well for commercial reasons for his new sponsor Sirromet Wines.
"Some of the biggest and oldest wineries in Australia are close to Adelaide, in places like the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale," said Morris.
"Sirromet Wines has only been going a couple of years so these races give us a chance to put them on the map in a traditional stronghold in that particular industry."
Holden drivers have won all three previous rounds since the Adelaide event was established, with Craig Lowndes in 1999, Mark Skaife the following year, and Jason Bright taking the honours 12 months ago.
CLIPSAL 500 -- FAST FACTS
CIRUCUIT LENGTH: 3.2km
RACE FORMAT: 2 x 250km (78 laps each)
RACE LAP RECORD: Craig Lowndes (Ford) 1-min 25.836-secs (2001)
2001 WINNER: Jason Bright (Holden)