Paul Morris aims to bury Oran Park V8 Supercar jinx. TUESDAY, JULY 23: Paul Morris, fresh from his best performance of the year, is confident of burying his team's Oran Park V8 Supercar Championship jinx in the Sunday's seventh round of the 2002...
Paul Morris aims to bury Oran Park V8 Supercar jinx.
TUESDAY, JULY 23: Paul Morris, fresh from his best performance of the year, is confident of burying his team's Oran Park V8 Supercar Championship jinx in the Sunday's seventh round of the 2002 series in Sydney.
The Sirromet Wines Holden Commodore driver's misfortunes on the 2.7km Oran Park circuit began in the 2000 championship, suffering three broken vertebrae when his car burst into flames after contact with the Ford Falcon of fellow-Queenslander Mark Larkham on the grid.
In 2001 Morris' Gold Coast-based team enlisted Briton Mat Neal to debut its first 'in-house' built VX Commodore in the championship round at Oran Park, but the car was badly damaged in a crash during qualifying, which disrupted preparations for the endurance races later in the year.
However, Morris is now driving his team's second 'in-house' built Commodore and is brimming with confidence for Oran Park after his first top 10 race finish of 2002 in the previous round at Barbagallo Raceway in Perth on June 30. He was fourth for much of the second race, until being relegated to 10th after contact with the Caltex Havoline Ford Falcon of David Besnard in the closing stages.
"We made a slow start to the season, but we turned things around at Barbagallo with our car speed, so I'm sure we can be even more competitive this weekend," said Morris.
"Oran Park hasn't been a happy hunting ground for us in the V8s, firstly with the big crash where I hurt my back and then the damage to our new car last year, but we're back on track and moving forward again."
Ironically, while Morris has had problems in the V8 category at Oran Park, he had tremendous success on the circuit in the Australian Super Touring Championship, recording 13 race wins there in BMWs between 1994-2000 on the way to winning four national titles.
"Despite what's happened in the V8s, I've always liked racing at Oran Park," said Morris. "Regardless of what type of car you're driving the important thing for fast lap times is to get a good run onto the main straight. There are several medium-speed corners and you need the balance of the car spot-on so you can change direction quickly."
Morris, who broke through for his first V8 Supercar Championship win at Calder Park in Victoria in 2001, attributes his difficult start to this year's series on missing the Phillip Island and Eastern Creek rounds after being eliminated in the now abandoned pre-qualifying sessions.
"We didn't get as much track time as we needed in the early part of the season to get the most out of the new Dunlop control tyres," he said. "Since then we've had more racing and testing, working on the car set-up, and the performance of the car is getting better all the time."
The Oran Park round comprises two 150km races. Holden Racing Team Commodore driver Mark Skaife leads the series with 1,493 points, followed by Kmart Commodore team-mates Greg Murphy on 884 and Todd Kelly on 802. Skaife won the Oran Park championship round in 2001.