THURSDAY, JULY 31: Hard-charging Wayne Wakefield will join fellow-Queenslander Paul Morris in the Sirromet Wines Holden Commodore for this year's V8 Supercar Championship endurance races, the Sandown 500 and the Bathurst 1000.
Wakefield also drove with Morris in the 2002 endurance events, and the previous year (2001) was team-mate to championship frontrunner Marcos Ambrose in a Stone Brothers Racing Ford Falcon at Bathurst.
Morris, fresh from a season-best fourth in this month’s championship round at Queensland Raceway, announced his team’s endurance combination today and believes he and Wakefield will be competitive in the races at Sandown in Melbourne on September 14 and at Bathurst on October 12.
The pair will compete in the new VY Commodore, fitted with a Holden Motorsport engine, which Morris raced for the first time at Queensland Raceway.
“We’ve got a new car that’s already quick and will be even better with more development before Sandown and Bathurst, plus Wayne is a team-mate with the speed and experience you need,” said Morris.
“Wayne has raced for us before, and continuity is important because he knows how our team works and he fits in well with everyone. He’s also had some racing and ‘test miles’ in V8 Supercars this year so overall I think we’re looking pretty good for the enduro events.”
Wakefield’s V8 Supercar experience this year includes racing a Romano Racing Holden Commodore in the championship round at Winton in Victoria on May 25, and two days of test driving at Queensland Raceway.
The 32-year-old from Brisbane said he was keen to atone for the disappointments of his 2002 Bathurst campaign with Morris. They went out of the race on lap 136 when in seventh position after a problem with the left-front wheel sent Morris crashing into a wall at the end of Mountain Straight.
“We ran in the top 10 most of the race at Bathurst last year until the crash, but this time we’re going back with what is obviously a very good car that’s capable of doing the business,” said Wakefield.
“Even though I’m not driving fulltime in the championship I’ve had enough track-time to get myself back up to speed by the time Sandown and Bathurst roll around. Paul runs a great team so this is a fantastic opportunity for me.”
Wakefield has raced at Sandown once before, in 1999, in addition to his four Bathurst 1000 starts.
“Sandown is a grunt circuit with two long straights and two big stops at the end of both of them,” he said. “Paul’s new car seems to have more power than before so hopefully we will be in good shape there, and at Bathurst.”
In addition to competing in the Bathurst 1000, Wakefield’s results on the 6.2km Mount Panorama circuit include winning the 30-lap Konica lead-up event in 2001, and finishing runner-up in the same race the following year.
Morris has made 10 starts in the Bathurst 1000, with a best outright result of third in 1999 in a Holden Racing Team Commodore with Mark Skaife. He was also a class winner in his Mount Panorama debut in 1991 in a Toyota Corolla with Geoff Full. His best result in the Sandown 500 to date was finishing runner-up in 1992 with Tony Longhurst in a BMW M3.
“I like all kinds of racing, but there’s something special about these endurance events, especially at Bathurst with all the tradition and uncertainty as things unfold on the day” said Morris.
“I’ve been on the podium at Bathurst before and it’s a great feeling being up there. This year I think we’ve got the manpower and the firepower to do it again if the cards fall our way.”
WAYNE WAKEFIELD – FAST FACTS
DATE/PLACE OF BIRTH: 13.9.70, Brisbane, Queensland
LIVES AT: Brisbane, Queensland
OCCUPATION: Tyre shop proprietor
RACING DEBUT: 1993, Queensland Gemini Championship
SANDOWN 500 STARTS: 1 (1999)
BATHURST V8 1000 STARTS: 4 (1999-2002)