Oran Park Preview

BOC GASES AUSTRALIAN SUPER TOURING CHAMPIONSHIP - ROUND 7 PREVIEW: Oran Park, NSW, Sunday, August 15 RICHARDS SAYS JONES HOLDS KEY TO CHAMPIONSHIP Works Volvo driver Jim Richards believes the outcome of his battle with Paul Morris for this...

BOC GASES AUSTRALIAN SUPER TOURING CHAMPIONSHIP - ROUND 7 PREVIEW: Oran Park, NSW, Sunday, August 15

RICHARDS SAYS JONES HOLDS KEY TO CHAMPIONSHIP

Works Volvo driver Jim Richards believes the outcome of his battle with Paul Morris for this year's BOC Gases Australian Super Touring Championship title could be decided by the qualifying performances of Audi spearhead Brad Jones.

Richards says if he and Jones qualify on the front-row in the remaining rounds at Oran Park in Sydney this Sunday (August 15) and at Calder Park in Melbourne on August 29 it may negate the strength of championship leader Morris with consistent fast starts in his rear-drive BMW 320.

"I don't expect Brad (Jones) to deliberately help me because he races for Audi, but it's a fact of life that if we can both quality on the front-row ahead of the BMW for the rest of the season then I'm going to have a better chance of winning the championship," said Richards.

Richards' theory proved accurate in the third race of the previous round at Queensland Raceway on August 1. The six-times Bathurst 1000 champion won the race after he and Jones qualified first and second in their front-drive cars. Morris, who started from the second row, was beaten to the first corner by Richards, who then sped to a comfortable win.

"Usually the BMW gets off the (start) line better than the front-drive cars, and even when I catch up it's difficult to get past," said Richards. "When the Audi started beside me on the front row at Queensland Raceway it made my job easier. It shows that my best chance of winning races is to be ahead when we get to the first corner."

Jones, a dual Super Touring champion, said he would attempt to qualify and finish races in the highest possible position for the remainder of the 1999 series, not to assist Richards, but to try and win the title for Audi. Morris leads the series on 189 points, followed by Richards on 173, and Jones on 136.

"Everyone is saying the championship is between Richards and Morris, but there are still 92 points to be won so we are not out of it yet," said Jones. "Having said that, even if I win everything from now on I probably still need the two in front of me to have some problems."

The Oran Park round will be on the 2.6km Grand Prix Circuit and comprises three races - over 12, 16, and 23 laps. The final event will include a compulsory pit-stop for all cars to change two wheels.

MORRIS CLOSES ON RECORD FOR MOST WINS IN A SEASON

Gold Coast driver Paul Morris is just one win away from equalling the record for most race victories in a season in the BOC Gases Australian Super Touring Championship. Morris, 31, has had eight wins from the 15 races in this year's championship in his 1996-specification ex-works NEMO Racing BMW 320. Works Audi driver Brad Jones holds the record with nine wins in an A4 quattro in 1996.

Morris' eight wins this year also equals his personal best for race wins in a single championship season. He previously won eight races in 1995 when driving for the BMW Motorsport works team. Morris has now won a record 32 championship races since 1994.

"Our team has done incredibly well this year," said Morris. "You have to remember our car (BMW) is three years older than the works Volvos and Audis. We wanted to be competitive against them, but the results have been better than anything we could have hoped for."

"We put our small team together only three weeks before the championship started, and we only had time for a couple of test days prior to the first race. Some of our team had worked on BMWs before so that helped, but the biggest thing is the way everyone has worked hard together. Getting Tim Neff (American-based Australian engineer) involved was another plus, because he's making the suspension work better with the new (Yokohama) control tyres we're running this year."

SUPER TOURING BRIEFS

Works Audi driver MATTHEW COLEMAN and Independents Cup racer DEAN CANTO will be racing at Oran Park after their cars were repaired from damage when they collided in the previous round at Queensland Raceway. Coleman's front-drive Audi A4 suffered suspension damage in an incident with Canto's Signature Security Systems Ford Mondeo at the start of race two. The front suspension upright has been replaced on Coleman's car at Audi Sport Australia's workshop in Albury. Canto's Mondeo had a broken front suspension upright, plus damage to the driveshaft, brakes, the left-front wheel, and body panels.

Signature Security Systems team manager MICK QUINN has called for championship organisers to consider adopting a 'staggered grid' formation for race starts in the wake of the Dean Canto-Matthew Coleman incident at Queensland Raceway. "It's something the officials could take a look at because it seems to work in other categories, including Formula One," said Quinn. Our cars are starting side-by-side and maybe that's a reason why we're seeing so many incidents. Personally I don't blame Dean (Canto) for what happened in Queensland. He saw a hole between the two Audis and went for it. I'd have been disappointed if he didn't try for it because he's a racer. Dean got a good start and the Audis didn't - you couldn't expect him to hang around and lose momentum while they sorted themselves out. A staggered grid opens things up and maybe Dean could have got through without contact with anyone."

Sydney policeman JOHN HENDERSON returns to the championship in his Holden Vectra after missing the past two rounds at Oran Park and Queensland Raceway. He was forced to withdraw from round five at Oran Park's South Circuit on July 18 because of a shortage of parts, and after travelling to Queensland he had to miss the racing because of damage to a piston. Henderson had been third in the Independents Cup and seventh outright in the championship after four rounds. He has since slipped to seventh in the Independents Cup and 11th in the championship. Henderson said his aim for the remainder of the championship was to try and become the first Independents Cup driver to finish on the podium for a top-three finish in 1999. His best championship result to date was fourth place in a round at Oran Park in 1998. Apart from Henderson, others entered at Oran Park who missed the previous round include NSW pair NIGEL STONES and CLAUDE ELIAS in Hyundai Lantras.

The TOCA AUSTRALIA website (www.toca.com.au) rated 53rd most popular Australian sports site and 74th among global sports sites visited by Australians in the week ending August 1. The rankings are compiled by the 'Top 100' website (www.top100.com.au). The TOCA Australia site received 83,581 hits for the week ending August 1.

ORAN PARK GRAND PRIX CIRCUIT - FAST FACTS

CIRCUIT LENGTH: 2.6km

RACE LAP RECORD: 1-min 10.04-secs, Brad Jones (NSW) Audi A4, 30.8.98

1998 RACE WINNERS: Race 1: Cameron McConville (Vic) Audi A4 Race 2: Brad Jones (NSW) Audi A4

ORAN PARK - SUPER TOURING SCHEDULE

THURSDAY, JULY 29: Practice 9am-5pm

FRIDAY, JULY 30: Practice 10-10.30am, 12.05-12.35pm, 2.10-2.40pm

SATURDAY, JULY 31: Practice 9.30-9.45am, 11.15-11.45am, Qualifying 1.45-2.15pm

SUNDAY, AUGUST 1: Race 1 (12 laps) 10.45am, Race 2 (16 laps) 1pm, Race 3 (23 laps with compulsory pit-stop) 3.05pm

DRIVERS CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS (after round 6): Morris 189, Richards 173, Jones 136, Coleman 119, Hills 85, Adderton 49, Watts 40, Canto 38, Robson 34, Newman 25, Henderson 23, Auger 21, Williamson 17, McGill 15, Wall 8, L. Searle 8, Cornish 5, Townshend 3, Rea 3, Zonneveld 3, T. Searle 2, Elias 1, Leslight 1, Teulan 1

MANUFACTURERS CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS (after round 6): Volvo 204, Audi 189

TEAMS CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS (after round 6): Audi Sport Australia 309, Volvo Racing 270, Signature Security Systems Ford Mondeo 164, Project Racing 92, Paul Morris Motorsport 40, TC Motorsport 30

INDEPENDENTS CUP CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS (after round 6): Hills 206, Robson 106, Canto 102, Newman 84, Auger 74, McGill 64, Henderson 55, Watts 49, L. Searle 40, Cornish 40, Leslight 24, Wall 22, Rea 19, T. Searle 17, Elias 14, Zonneveld 13, Teulan 12, Stones 10, Townshend 8, Letcher 7, Downard 6

CHAMPIONSHIP RACE WINS (1994-99): Paul Morris 32, Brad Jones 23, Geoff Brabham 9, Cameron McConville 9, Jim Richards 7, Tony Longhurst 6, Greg Murphy 3, Steven Richards 1, Patrick Watts 1

CHAMPIONSHIP POLE POSITIONS (1994-99): Paul Morris 19, Brad Jones 15, Jim Richards 14, Geoff Brabham 12, Tony Longhurst 5, Steven Richards 4, Greg Murphy 4, Cameron McConville 3, James Kaye 1, Craig Baird 1, Patrick Watts 1

Mike Porter mikep@qldnet.com.au

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About this article
Series Supercars
Drivers Greg Murphy , Cameron McConville , Jim Richards , Brad Jones , Dean Canto , Craig Baird , Paul Morris , Tony Longhurst , James Kaye , Geoff Brabham , Steven Richards , Patrick Watts
Teams Williams