Paul Morris names new driver for Bathurst

Queensland'a Paul Morris has changed co-drivers for his Big Kev Commodore on the eve of this weekend's V8 Supercar 1000 at Bathurst. Morris has replaced English driver Matt Neal with New Zealand TransAm competitor Ashley Stichbury for the annual...

Queensland'a Paul Morris has changed co-drivers for his Big Kev Commodore on the eve of this weekend's V8 Supercar 1000 at Bathurst.

Morris has replaced English driver Matt Neal with New Zealand TransAm competitor Ashley Stichbury for the annual 1000km enduro, which gets underway with practice sessions on Thursday.

Neal drives a Nissan in the European Touring Car Championship and his team was not prepared to release him for Bathurst because of uncertainly with international flights and the tension surrounding the terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre in New York.

Neal is required to race in Belgium the week after the V8 Supercar 1000 after competing in Spain yesterday.

Stichbury will have a decent warm-up to Sunday's race when he drives an old VS Big Kev Commodore in the 30-lap Konica race on Saturday. The VS Commodore has not been raced since the support races at last year's Honda Indy 300 on the Gold Coast.

"We were looking forward to racing with Matt at Bathurst, but unfortunately that won't be the case," said Morris. "Ashley tested with us at through the year with the idea of us running him in Konica V8 Supercar Series next season. "We tested him again last Thursday when these problems arose with Matt and his times at Queensland Raceway were very impressive. "In fact, his times compared with the winners of the Queensland 500 last month."

Stichbury came through the New Zealand motorsport ranks and currently drives for Mark Petch Motorsport in the New Zealand TransAm Championship. Morris raced again Stichbury in the 96-97 New Zealand Series.

Petch has his own history in this country having won the Shell Australian Touring Car Championship with Robbie Francevic in a Volvo in 1986.

Stichbury will not go to Bathurst as a rookie, as he replaced an ill Kevin Waldock at the last minute in the mid 90s.

"I guess this is the ultimate case of being in the right place at the right time," said Stichbury. "I have to thank Paul and the Big Kev team for the opportunity. "Hopefully this will be the break in my career I have been waiting for. "I just want to keep the car straight and produce consistent lap times in an effort to get Paul as many championship points as possible."

Neal did not start the season on a great note when he virtually destroyed a brand new Big Kev Commodore in practice for the eighth round of the Shell Championship Series at Oran Park at the end of July.

The car was only a handful of laps old when Neal put it into the wall at the entrance to the main straight. That car has been salvaged, but will not be run this weekend.

"We will be running the VT Commodore we have run all year. It's the same car we won the Calder Park round win in July," said Morris. "We have got the new car back together, but there are some systems on it we are not confident of running for 1000km at Bathurst. "Despite an older car we are heading to Bathurst with a very competitive package."

Practice for this year's V8 Supercar 1000 begins on Thursday with Sunday's race commencing at 10am.

TICKET PRICES Adults - GA Season - (Thurs-Sun): Advance $85.00 Gate $90.00 Weekend: Advance $75.00 Gate $80.00 Sunday: Advance $55.00 Gate $60.00 Concession GA - Outer Circuit Only Season (Thurs-Sun): Advance $70.00 Gate $75.00 Weekend: Advance $60.00 Gate $65.00 Sunday: Advance $45.00 Gate $50.00 Grandstand Outer Circuit: Advance $155.00 Gate $160.00 Paddock Passes Paddock passes are valid for all four days of the V8 Supercar 1000. They must be purchased in addition to a General Admission or Grandstand Ticket. Numbers limited. $30.00 (advance of at the gate)

Website: www.v8supercar1000.com Tickets: Available through Ticketmaster7 on 136 122, Ticketmaster7.com or at the gate.

TELEVISION TIMES Network Ten will be providing a massive 15 hours of nation-wide live coverage from Mt Panorama. It will also be televised live to New Zealand and Europe with a delayed telecast to North America and Asia. A total potential viewing for 400 million homes. Saturday's Network Ten telecast will be from Noon-5pm. Sunday's telecast will be from 7am-5pm.

-BAB-

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About this article
Series Supercars
Drivers Matt Neal , Paul Morris
Teams Nissan Motorsports