Paul Morris charges to fourth Sirromet Wines Holden Commodore driver Paul Morris overcame pre-race clutch problems and a delayed pit-stop before claiming fourth place in today's seventh round of the V8 Supercar Championship at Queensland Raceway...
Paul Morris charges to fourth
Sirromet Wines Holden Commodore driver Paul Morris overcame pre-race clutch problems and a delayed pit-stop before claiming fourth place in today's seventh round of the V8 Supercar Championship at Queensland Raceway near Ipswich.
Morris' result in the 300km race, held in fine conditions, was his best in the championship since he won the round at Calder Park in Victoria in 2001.
The 35-year-old from the Gold Coast completed the 96-lap event in 1-hr 57-mins 50.595-secs, finishing 24.099-secs behind the race-winning Caltex Havoline Ford Falcon of Russell Ingall. Marcos Ambrose was second in a Pirtek Ford Falcon, and Todd Kelly third in a Holden Racing Team Commodore.
Morris' pre-race lead-up was unsettled by a broken clutch plate. He drove with the problem in the 'Top 10 Shoot Out' and improved from sixth in yesterday's qualifying to secure third position on the grid. His team then replaced the clutch and completed the work just 10-mins before the start of the race.
Once the race began Morris held fourth position in his VY Commodore, fitted with the new Holden Motorsport engine for the first time. He made his mandatory pit-stop for fuel on lap 42, and 12 laps later stopped again for the compulsory tyre change. In the second pit-stop Morris was delayed 18-secs because the left-front wheel nut became jammed during the change-over process.
Morris resumed racing in sixth position, and on lap 63 improved to fifth by passing championship leader Jason Bright in a Team Brock Commodore. In the closing stages defending champion Mark Skaife withdrew because of an engine failure in his Holden Racing Team Commodore, which lifted Morris to fourth.
Morris scored a season-best 174 championship points for his result, and boosted his series tally to 575. Bright leads on 1,195 points, followed by Ambrose on 1,159.
PAUL MORRIS QUOTES: "It's been our best weekend for a couple of years and it felt really good to be back up near the front and fighting for the top places. With a bit of luck we might have been on the podium, but the wheel nut got stuck in the pit-stop and that cost us plenty of time. We also had some dramas with the clutch before the race, so when you consider everything fourth is still pretty good. In the first stint I didn't want to push too hard, and we slotted in behind Ambrose, Skaife, and Ingall and ran the same pace comfortably. The clutch problems came back for the last 20 laps so I had to make sure I got the car to the finish. At times I made up time on (Todd) Kelly, but his car seemed a little quicker in a straight line. The new (Holden Motorsport) engine has given us a step forward with performance, and now we've got to keep it going for the rest of the season."