Paul Morris supports New Zealand race

Paul Morris supports second V8 Supercar round in New Zealand Sirromet Wines Holden Commodore driver Paul Morris supports moves for New Zealand to host a second round on the V8 Supercar Championship calendar in the future. The 35-year-old team...

Paul Morris supports second V8 Supercar round in New Zealand

Sirromet Wines Holden Commodore driver Paul Morris supports moves for New Zealand to host a second round on the V8 Supercar Championship calendar in the future.

The 35-year-old team owner from the Gold Coast voiced his opinion as he prepared to head across the Tasman and race in New Zealand's sole round on the 2003 championship programme, at Pukekohe south of Auckland, from November 7-9.

Morris believes there is sufficient support in New Zealand for it to hold two rounds of the series for V8 Holdens and Fords, particularly with the presence in the championship of top Kiwi drivers Greg Murphy, the Bathurst 1000 champion, plus Paul Radisich, Jason Richards, and Craig Baird with Team Kiwi.

"More than 160,000 fans turned up at Pukekohe the last two years, and those numbers prove the Kiwis will come out and support their drivers, and V8s," said Morris. "Murphy has won there the last couple of years and the fans treat him like a rock star!"

"They sell Commodores and Falcons in New Zealand so there's a lot to gain for the manufacturers if they got another round."

"There's been some talk about it, and I hope it happens because I think it would be a win-win situation for everyone, especially the fans. I'm sure we're going to see another big crowd at Pukekohe next weekend."

Morris said he had noted increased interest in the championship in discussions with New Zealand tourists visiting the Holden Performance Driving Centre on the Gold Coast, where his team is based, and which also includes two motoring museums with a variety of cars and motorcycles dating back to the 1950s.

"The Kiwis we speak to at the 'Driving Centre' know all the V8 drivers and who they race for, and you can tell they must be following the championship closely on television in New Zealand," said Morris.

Morris, who won the TraNZam title in New Zealand in 1996-97, and also has victories across the Tasman in the Nissan-Mobil 500 races at Wellington and Pukekohe, said his preferred venue for a second championship round among existing permanent circuits was Ruapuna, on the outskirts of Christchurch.

"If it was my decision I'd say Ruapuna, but I'm a driver and team owner, and it's AVESCO (championship managers) who decide where we race," said Morris.

"I've heard about a possible street race in Auckland, and that could be good, but you can't really say much right now until we see more details."

"From the places I've raced at in New Zealand I think Ruapuna is the best, certainly for pit facilities and it's good for spectators. It's not far from the airport, with direct flights to Australia, and there's plenty of accommodation in a city as big as Christchurch."

Morris said other circuits which could be considered as potential championship venues included Manfield, near Palmerston North, and Taupo in the central North Island.

"Manfield is a mixture of fast straights and a tight infield section, and from a driver's point of view it's pretty challenging," he said.

"The track at Taupo is a little short (1.4km), but I understand they're talking about extending it another couple of kilometres. If that happens it might be the way to go because Taupo is a popular tourist area with the lake, and it's somewhere that could attract more fans from Australia, especially if they like fishing and getting out on the water. There's also many hotels and motels, plus camping facilities."

Assessing the PlaceMakers International at Pukekohe, Morris said engine performance would be critical because the average lap speed of more than 170-km/h was among the fastest of any track in the 13-round championship, along with Bathurst, and Phillip Island in Victoria.

"You need plenty of horsepower at Pukekohe with those long straights, and most of the corners are quick apart from one hairpin," said Morris.

Morris has qualified in the Top 10 Shoot Out four times this year, and his best championship result to date is fourth in the 300km race at Queensland Raceway in July. He is keen to atone for a disappointing Bathurst, where he withdrew after five laps because of mechanical problems, and struggling with car set-up in the previous round on the Gold Coast on October 25-26.

"I want to get on the podium this season and there's only two rounds left," said Morris. "Pukekohe will be tough, like everywhere else, but we will give it our best shot and see what happens."

Practice and qualifying at Pukekohe will be held on November 7. The first race over 100km is the following day, followed by two 150km races on November 9.

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About this article
Series Supercars
Drivers Greg Murphy , Paul Morris , Jason Richards , Paul Radisich , Phillip Island
Teams Nissan Motorsport