Sirromet Wines Holden Commodore drivers Paul Morris and John Faulkner battled through a pre-race engine change, variable weather, and two penalties before finishing 13th in today's Betta Electrical Sandown 500 V8 Supercar Championship endurance...
Sirromet Wines Holden Commodore drivers Paul Morris and John Faulkner battled through a pre-race engine change, variable weather, and two penalties before finishing 13th in today's Betta Electrical Sandown 500 V8 Supercar Championship endurance race in Melbourne.
Both drivers encountered dry and wet track conditions during their stints behind the wheel in the ninth round of the championship, which was reduced to 141 laps, 20 less than originally scheduled.
In the final stages of the race Morris was delayed by being forced to return to pit-lane for separate 'drive-through' penalties when officials found him guilty of driving infringements in contact with the Holden Racing Team Commodore of Tony Longhurst and Jim Richards, and the Shell Helix Ford Falcon of David Brabham and Max Wilson.
Holden Racing Team Commodore drivers Mark Skaife and Todd Kelly won the race in 3-hrs 26-mins 50.475-secs, with Morris and Faulkner finishing two laps behind in their VY Commodore, powered by a Holden Motorsport engine. Morris clocked the team's best lap time in the race with 1-min 12.464-secs around the 3.1km circuit.
In the pre-race warm-up the Morris-Faulkner car developed engine problems, and the Sirromet Wines team crew changed the engine before the start of the race.
Faulkner, who was making his debut for Morris' team, drove the opening stint over 40 laps in dry weather before making a pit-stop for wet-weather tyres after rain began to fall. He resumed racing and continued until lap 65 and then returned to the pits in 15th position for a driver switch with Morris, and the team's compulsory brake-pad change.
Morris drove unchanged from lap 66 through to the finish. He began his stint on dry-weather tyres, but was forced to make a pit-stop on lap 108 and then change to wet-weather rubber after heavy rain and hail fell on the circuit. The 35-year-old from the Gold Coast served his 'drive-through' penalties on laps 109 and 113.
Both Morris and Faulkner scored 120 points each for their result at Sandown. Morris is now 19th in the championship with 743 points. Marcos Ambrose, who finished fifth at Sandown in a Pirtek Ford Falcon with Russell Ingall, leads the series with 1,519 points.
The 10th round of the championship is the Bob Jane T-Marts Bathurst 1000 at Mount Panorama on October 12.
PAUL MORRIS QUOTES: "When the hail came down it was like skating on an ice-rink. There was virtually no traction, but they brought the Safety Car out and once the weather cleared it was okay to go racing again. Today We we always seemed to be playing 'catch-up' for one reason or another. It started with the engine change after the warm-up, and things never really went our way in the race. I pushed pretty hard after I got in the car, and copped a couple of penalties. The contact with car 18 (Brabham-Wilson) happened when I was committed to make a pass up the inside and the other driver didn't see me. I tried to back off, but we hit. We dropped two laps because of all the things that were going on, and that's the difference between a top five finish or coming 13th like we did here. There's always a chance of rain at Bathurst, so it was probably good to have a run in the wet today, and to do driver and brake-pad changes under race conditions."
JOHN FAULKNER QUOTES: "I had trouble with understeer on the tyres I started the race with. I couldn't get the car to turn for me. It seemed a battle to get temperature into the front tyres and I couldn't get onto the straight as quick as I wanted. The car was good on the high-speed sections. I was circulating on 'slick' tyres when the rain started, but the team brought me back to the pits quickly to change to 'wets' which was the right call. This was my first race with this team and it's very profesional -- the guys did a fantastic job with the engine change today."