Eastern Creek: Round three preview

V8 Supercar Championship - Round 3 Eastern Creek, NSW, April 26-28 Morris says new tyres will help in pre-qualifying at Eastern Creek. Sirromet Wines Holden Commodore driver Paul Morris believes the availability of a new set of Dunlop control ...

Eastern Creek: Round three preview

V8 Supercar Championship - Round 3
Eastern Creek, NSW, April 26-28

Morris says new tyres will help in pre-qualifying at Eastern Creek.

Sirromet Wines Holden Commodore driver Paul Morris believes the availability of a new set of Dunlop control tyres may prove decisive in his bid to successfully move through pre-qualifying at the Eastern Creek circuit in Sydney this Friday and win a start in the third round of the V8 Supercar Championship.

Morris is part of an expected group of around 15 drivers who will participate in pre-qualifying, with the leading seven in the session earning positions alongside 25 others to form a grid of 32 cars at Eastern Creek for the 20-mins race on Saturday, and two 150km races the following day.

The 34-year-old Gold Coast driver, who won the Calder Park round of the 2001 championship, has an allocation of fresh tyres available for pre-qualifying at Eastern Creek because he failed to finish in the top seven in the session in the previous round at Phillip Island earlier this month and missed the races.

By comparison, his rivals in the pre-qualifying session at Eastern Creek who raced at Phillip Island will have to drive with previously used tyres. These include Ford Falcon drivers Glenn Seton, Mark Larkham, and Neil Crompton.

Morris said the system was not unfair because he had been forced to contest pre-qualifying at Phillip Island with tyres used in the previous round, the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide during March.

"At Phillip Island I had to use 'old' tyres from Adelaide in pre-qualifying and just missed the cut and went home early," he said. "On that occasion I was disadvantaged against some of the others who had fresh rubber because they didn't race in Adelaide, but this time it's the other way round and I'm one of the guys with the new tyres."

"I've heard some teams are complaining about this situation and saying it's not fair, but when you sign up to do the championship you know what the rules are. When I missed out at Phillip Island I had to 'cop it sweet', and that's fair enough because you have to play by the rules."

Morris was relegated to pre-qualifying at Phillip Island because he did not secure a top 25 grid position in Adelaide. His failure to make the top seven in pre-qualifying at Phillip Island meant he had to contest the session again at Eastern Creek.

"The best way to stay clear of this situation is to make sure you're in the top 25 in regular qualifying, and that's what we will be trying to do at Eastern Creek," he said. "We want to get through Friday, then qualify in the top 25 and get some good results in the races."

"If we can do that we can go to the next race (at Hidden Valley in Darwin on May 19) and not have to worry about pre-qualifying. At the same time it's going to be tough because the competition is strong."

Morris, whose team is based at the Holden Performance Driving Centre at Norwell, north of the Gold Coast, said he had decided to delay the debut of a new 'in-house' built VX Commodore until later in the championship. He will drive at Eastern Creek in the same VX Commodore, also built 'in-house' , he entered in previous championship rounds this year.

"We need to do more testing in the new car before we race it," said Morris. "There have been opportunities to test since Phillip Island, but we wanted to keep our tyres new for pre-qualifying at Eastern Creek."

"In the circumstances we will stay with the car we know. It was going well at Phillip Island, apart from the fuel injector problem we had in pre-qualifying which is the main reason we missed out."

"My results at Eastern Creek have generally been quite good in various categories so we're hoping for a good weekend."

Mark Skaife leads the championship for the Holden Racing Team with 580 points, followed by Kmart Commodore driver Greg Murphy on 304.

EASTERN CREEK -- FAST FACTS

 CIRCUIT LENGTH: 3.9km 
RACE FORMAT: 1 x 20-min race, 2 x 150km races
RACE LAP RECORD: Mark Skaife (Holden) 1-min 31.730-secs
2001 ROUND WINNER: Mark Skaife (Holden)

CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS (after round 2);

Skaife 580, Murphy 304, Tander 289, Kelly 252, Richards 221, Lowndes 216, Ambrose 204, Johnson 180, Longhurst 178, Bright 170.

Other: Morris 16

-atcc-

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