Pit-lane delay costs Morris possible podium finish. A delay in pit-lane cost Sirromet Wines Holden Commodore driver Paul Morris a possible top three podium finish in today's rain-shortened second round of the V8 Supercar Championship at Phillip...
Pit-lane delay costs Morris possible podium finish.
A delay in pit-lane cost Sirromet Wines Holden Commodore driver Paul Morris a possible top three podium finish in today's rain-shortened second round of the V8 Supercar Championship at Phillip Island.
Morris, who led the race for several laps, finished 13th, but believes he would have been second to eventual winner Craig Lowndes if his YV Commodore had not been delayed for about 30-secs during his second compulsory pit-stop to change tyres on lap 47.
The delay occurred because Morris was unaware when he entered pit-lane that the pit area shared by his team and Toll Racing was already occupied by Anthony Tratt's Ford Falcon, who was also changing tyres. Morris was forced to wait until Tratt had completed his pit-stop before wet-weather rubber was fitted to his Commodore and he was able to rejoin the race.
Soon after a heavy downpour descended onto the 4.5km circuit and the race was stopped after 54 laps, 13 less than scheduled. Lowndes was declared winner in a CAT Ford Falcon in a time of 1-hr 37-mins 39.127-secs, with Morris 34.188-secs behind.
Morris, who qualified 26th, charged through the field in the opening period and was ninth after 25 laps. He continued to improve positions by deliberately delaying his first pit-stop for fuel until lap 40, and then rejoined the race in seventh position.
The Sirromet Wines team then calculated correctly that if Morris could remain racing until the rain arrived, and still be inside the 'pit window', then he would not have to make a third and additional stop for wet-weather tyres like many rivals. The gamble paid off, but Morris' advantage was lost by the delay in the pits.
Morris scored a total of 130 championship points for his result at Phillip Island, which boosted his series tally to 177. The third round is at Eastern Creek in Sydney on May 4.
PAUL MORRIS QUOTES: "We had second place 'in the bag' today, but then we had to wait for Tratt's car in the pits and lost the advantage. My team made all the right calls with the strategy. It was smart to leave me out as long as possible because we could switch straight to wet-weather rubber, whereas a lot of others had already been in for a second set of 'slicks'. Effectively we put ourselves in a position to make one less pit-stop than many cars. The confusion in the pits happened after we had a problem with the radio. My team was telling me to stay out for another lap because Tratt was in the pits, but I didn't hear them until I was already in pit-lane. The one-car teams have to share pits so it was disappointing this happened at such a critical time in the race. Apart from this problem it was our best race of the season and a good day for our team. The car was brilliant in the dry and looked after the rear tyres, which we thought might have been a problem. I was able to do consistent lap times. When the rain came the track was diabolical. They had to stop the race. There's no way they could have re-started it. The scoreboard shows we came 13th, but in reality we were much better than that. It's very encouraging for the rest of the season."