Fabian Coulthard gets full-time drive

FULL V8 SUPERCAR SEASON FOR COULTHARD New Zealand racing driver Fabian Coulthard will join top Australian Holden driver Paul Morris' Queensland-based Sirromet Wines V8 Supercar team for a full season this year beginning with the Clipsal 500 ...

FULL V8 SUPERCAR SEASON FOR COULTHARD

New Zealand racing driver Fabian Coulthard will join top Australian Holden driver Paul Morris' Queensland-based Sirromet Wines V8 Supercar team for a full season this year beginning with the Clipsal 500 meeting round the streets of Adelaide in early March.

Last year, kart-turned-car star Coulthard dove-tailed a drive in the Battery Town Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge championship here in New Zealand with a limited programme with Morris in Australia where he shared the second Team Sirromet Wines Holden Commodore with fellow Holden Young Lion Alan Gurr.

This year the 24-year-old will step up to a full #2 driver role with what is widely regarded as Australia's top 'privateer' team.

'This is a fantastic opportunity and one I've been working towards since returning from the UK," said Coulthard as he announced the tie-up with the Morris team."Working with Paul and the guys last year was good in terms of getting a feel for the Commodore and the V8 Supercar category but it's going to be an all-new ballgame doing every round this year."

To that end Coulthard will move from Auckland, where he has based himself for the past three years, to the Gold Coast.

The confirmation of Coulthard's place on the Morris team brings to five the number of New Zealand-born drivers competing in Australia's premier category.

Like Tasman Motorsport teammates Greg Murphy and Jason Richards, Coulthard got his competition start in New Zealand in karts, winning four New Zealand championship titles before graduating to cars, first in the Formula Ford class, where he went on to claim the New Zealand championship title in 2001, then Formula Asia 2000 and - for a season - Formula Renault in the UK.

Unable to sustain the costs of competing in the UK he returned home and changed his focus to tin-tops, targeting the Porsche GT3 Cup-based Carrera Cup Australia championship.

In his first year in the category (2004) he finished third overall and won both the Michelin Rookie of The Year and Michelin Driver to Europe awards.

In his second, in 2005, he dominated the championship to claim the overall title.

That summer Coulthard also made a racing return at home, joining the Porsche GT3 Cup Car-based Battery Town Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge championship where he finished a fighting second to defending class champion Craig Baird.

This summer he returned for a second season in that category and after four of the seven rounds again lies second to Baird in the overall points standings.

Queenslander Paul Morris has been competing with success since he made his on-track debut in his home state's Holden Gemini one-make series back in 1987. Since then he has competed in the Formula Ford single-seater class and the 2-litre Touring and V8 Supercar classes across the Tasman, the Indy Lights single-seater category in the United States, and the V8 Supercar and New Zealand TraNZam Championship on this side of the Tasman.

His best individual race finish last year was sixth in the Super Cheap Autos 1000 at Bathurst with Steve Ellery.

Over the years Morris has built up a thriving V8 Supercar series-based business at Norwell on the Gold Coast where he now has a staff of 29.

Included in that number are several New Zealanders, including team manager Nigel Barclay and crew chief Dick Smart.

-credit: fc

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About this article
Series Supercars
Drivers Greg Murphy , Fabian Coulthard , Craig Baird , Paul Morris , Jason Richards , Alan Gurr