Sirromet Wines Commodore driver Paul Morris will race the new Holden Motorsport engine for the first time in this Sunday's V8 Supercar Championship round at Queensland Raceway, near Ipswich. The 35-year-old from the Gold Coast previously raced...
Sirromet Wines Commodore driver Paul Morris will race the new Holden Motorsport engine for the first time in this Sunday's V8 Supercar Championship round at Queensland Raceway, near Ipswich.
The 35-year-old from the Gold Coast previously raced with an 18-degree Chevrolet engine in his VS, VT, VX, and VY Commodores since entering the championship in 2000 as a team owner and driver.
Morris decided to race with the new 5-litre engine in round seven of the championship after a successful test over 40 laps on the 3.1km Queensland Raceway circuit on July 8-9.
"It's still early days with development, but straight away you can feel the new engine has more torque and better acceleration off the corners," he said.
"I'd say it's about three-tenths of a second quicker in lap times compared to the old engine, and the Holden teams needed that to bring the engine performance back up to equal the Fords."
"Before I felt like a 'shot duck' with one arm tied behind my back in a race situation against the Falcons because they've always had better straight-line speed."
"In the past the Holden teams have had to spend bucket loads of money on various components to get the engine performance of the Fords, so it's good to now be on a level playing field."
Morris, who clocked a best lap time of 1-min 10.3-secs in the test, becomes the fifth Commodore driver confirmed to race the Holden Motorsport engine in the 300km event at Queensland Raceway. The others are Garth Tander in a Valvoline Commodore, Team Dynamik pair Simon Wills and Jason Richards, and Castrol Perkins racer Steven Richards.
The Holden Motorsport engine was introduced for 2003. However, Morris' team, and many other Commodore teams, initially opted to continue competing with the 18-degree Chevrolet powerplant this year while developing their Holden Motorsport engines until they were race-ready.
Development on Morris' new engine began six months ago at the team's workshop located at the Holden Performance Driving Centre. Selected parts were sourced from the United States, including the block, head castings, pistons and crankshaft, before assembly and dynamometer testing under the supervision of engine technicians Arch McMurray and Rod O'Brien.
This weekend Morris will also race for the first time in his team's first 'in-house' built VY Commodore, which was designed for the new engine. In previous championship races this year he campaigned a VY model which had been converted from a VX Commodore and modified with double-wishbone front suspension.
"Before we ran something that was a bit of 'mix and match', but now we're moving up to the real deal with an all-new combination of engine and chassis that have been made for each other," said Morris.
Morris said that he was relishing a return to the 300km single-event format at Queensland Raceway, after disappointing results in the three-race sprint rounds at Barbagallo Raceway in Perth and Hidden Valley in Darwin during June.
"We've had good car-speed just about everywhere, but our results were better earlier in the year in the longer 300km races at Phillip Island (Victoria), and Eastern Creek (NSW)," he said.
"Queensland Raceway is our test track and we've done more laps there than anywhere so there's no reason why we shouldn't be competitive this weekend."
In 2002 the championship round at Queensland Raceway was a 500km endurance event for teams of two. Morris, who was partnered by fellow-Queenslander Wayne Wakefield, held fourth position during the middle stages, but was delayed by a broken axle and finished 26th.
Team Brock Commodore driver Jason Bright leads this year's 13-round championship with 1,027 points, followed by Steven Richards on 992, with Marcos Ambrose third on 973 in a Pirtek Ford Falcon.