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Morris overcomes bent steering to finish ninth

19/4/2005 13:40 (Press Release) - Sirromet Wines Holden Commodore driver Paul Morris overcame bent steering after contact with another car to finish ninth in today's opening race in the second round of the V8 Supercar Championship at Pukekohe in New Zealand.

Morris completed the 36-lap race on the 2.8km track near Auckland in a time of 35-mins 21.548-secs, finishing 27.791-secs behind the winning Super Cheap Auto Commodore of New Zealander Greg Murphy.

After qualifying 11th, Morris charged up to sixth on the opening lap. However, in the early stages of the race the steering on his VZ Commodore was bent after the left-front of the car made contact with the Castrol Perkins Commodore driven by Paul Dumbrell.

Morris was able to continue driving, but struggled with a steering problem for the remainder of the race. He was able to maintain a position in the top three for a lengthy period because he elected to delay his compulsory pit-stop to change tyres until lap 23.

The 37-year-old Gold Coast driver resumed driving after his pit-stop in 14th place, and improved five positions before the finish. He recorded his fastest lap of the race on lap 26 with a time of 56.445-secs. Morris, who went into the race 10th equal in the championship, scored 48 points for his result. The Pukekohe round will be completed tomorrow with two 140km races.

PAUL MORRIS QUOTES: "There was some drama in front of me at the start and I was able to make up three or four places. We were looking good until a few laps later when (Paul) Dumbrell and I came together at the hairpin and it bent the steering. I don't know what he was trying to do.

"From then on it was a battle trying to keep a reasonable pace. We decided to stay out longer than planned to see what the tyres would do before making our pit-stop. Once we put fresh tyres on the car I went quicker near the end and on the last lap I passed (Jamie) Whincup at Turn One. Apart from the steering problem the car was good. We scored some valuable points today, and we've got a good grid position (9th) for tomorrow. If we have a clean run then I'm hopeful of improving."

RESULTS RACE 1 (36 laps):
1. Greg Murphy Super Cheap Auto Holden Commodore 34:53.757
2. Russell Ingall Caltex Ford Falcon 34:56.877
3. Mark Skaife Holden Racing Team Commodore 34:58.430
4. Steve Ellery Betta Electrical Ford Falcon 35:05.680
5. Marcos Ambrose Pirtek Ford Falcon 35:08.633
6. Paul Radisich Team Kiwi Holden Commodore 35:09.115
7. Jason Bright Ford Performance Racing Falcon 35:09.572
8. Todd Kelly Holden Racing Team Commodore 35:13.606
9. Paul Morris Sirromet Wines Holden Commodore 35:21.548
10. Jamie Whincup Tasman Motorsport Holden Commodore 35:21.566
FASTEST LAP: Murphy 56.078-secs

Release Date: 16/04/2005

Sirromet Wines - PMM