BETTING MARKETS LIST COURTNEY FAVOURITE FOR CHAMPIONSHIP TITLE
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 25: Jim Beam Racing Ford Falcon driver James Courtney has firmed as favourite on three betting markets to clinch the V8 Supercar Championship title ahead of rival Jamie Whincup in the final round in Sydney next week.
Courtney has led the championship since May and takes a 53-point advantage over Whincup (Team Vodafone) into the title decider at Homebush from December 3-5. The only other driver with a mathematical chance of claiming the title is Mark Winterbottom (Ford Performance Racing), who trails Courtney by 203 points. Latest markets include:
V8 BET/SPORTINGBET: $1.33 Courtney, $3.15 Whincup, $67 Winterbottom TAB SPORTSBET: $1.36 Courtney, $3 Whincup, $34 Winterbottom CENTREBET: $1.30 Courtney, $3.30 Whincup, $67 Winterbottom
AFTER ROUND 13: James Courtney (Ford) 2,932; Jamie Whincup (Holden) 2,879; Mark Winterbottom (Ford) 2,729; Craig Lowndes (Holden) 2,567; Garth Tander (Holden) 2,382
Whincup led the opening five rounds of the championship. Courtney has led since round six at Winton. The JELD-WEN sponsored driver's leading margins at the end of subsequent rounds have varied between 50 points to 179.
COURTNEY COMMENT: "It's been a close battle with Jamie (Whincup) all season, and nothing will change at Homebush. Team Vodafone will throw everything as us, but my team and I are ready. We have proved we can handle pressure. I'd back my team against anyone else in the paddock - they have done a great job getting me to the front and keeping me there."
There will be two 250km races on the 3.4km street circuit at Sydney Olympic Park. The winner of each race will score 150 points, meaning there is a maximum 300 points available to any one driver.
Courtney will be the champion if he wins or finishes ahead of Whincup and Winterbottom in both races.
If Whincup wins both races he will increase his points tally to 3,179. If this eventuates Courtney will need a further 248 points in Sydney to finish on 3,180 and claim the title. If required, Courtney can score these points in two ways - a third (129 points) and a fourth (120), or a second (138) and a fifth (111). Both combinations are worth 249 points and would provide Courtney with a winning score of 3,181.
COURTNEY COMMENT: "I'm keeping things the same as always - go for the win, and if I can't win then get as many points as possible. That's what our team has been doing all season so we won't change anything. My job is to race the car as fast as I can, and I'll let my team sort out the various scenarios with the points."
"The good thing about my lead in the points is I can control whether I win the championship. That's not necessarily the case for Jamie because even if he wins both races it may not be enough. He may have to also rely on other cars beating me. This situation means he is the one who may have to take more risks, and street circuits aren't the best places for taking risks if things go wrong!"
"Mark (Winterbottom) is probably a long-shot for the championship unless Jamie and I fail to finish at least one of the races. That said, it's been a crazy championship so who knows what will happen. Maybe 'PD' (Paul Dumbrell) will come out and beat us all, and you can't rule out Garth (Tander)."
RACE WINS & RACES FINISHED 2010
WINS (from 24 races): Whincup 9, Courtney 5, Winterbottom 3, Tander 3, Lowndes 3, Dumbrell 1
RACES FINISHED (from 24 races): Courtney 24, Whincup 23, Winterbottom 22, Lowndes 22, Tander 21
COURTNEY COMMENT: "Jamie has won more races than me, but I've finished more races than him and Mark. I've been more consistent and that's the difference up to now. I'm the only driver in the top five who has finished every championship race, which shows what a great job my team has done in giving me a reliable car. We've dropped points in some races, including two pit-lane penalties, but we haven't had as many bad days as the other guys."
In the previous round at Sandown in Melbourne (Nov 19-21), Courtney was fifth in race one and won the second race, Whincup was second and third, and Winterbottom third and second. Courtney scored 270 points, and Whincup and Winterbottom each 267.
COURTNEY COMMENT: "The win at Sandown has given our team good momentum for Homebush. It was the perfect time to stamp our authority. There has been a lot happening with our team's ownership recently, but it hasn't distracted the guys who work on my car. If anything it has brought us closer together. Our reliability, race strategy, and work at the pit-stops have been second-to-none. In the second race at Sandown I came into the pits behind Jamie, and my crew got me out in front of him. This gave me the advantage with track position for the last stint."
Courtney was 17th in race one and won the second race. Whincup was fifth and 14th, and Winterbottom second and third. Courtney was third for much of the opening race, but was forced to make an extra pit-stop for repairs to a door on his car.
COURTNEY COMMENT: "I had good pace at Homebush last year. I'm coming back with the same car so I expect to be competitive again. The first race (in 2009) showed regardless of car speed you can't take anything for granted. We were looking good for the podium and then a door started opening and closing. We had to come into the pits to fix it and it ruined the race. The next day was almost perfect - I led for more than 50 laps and won quite easily."
COURTNEY & STREET CIRCUITS
In the past two seasons Courtney has won, or finished on the podium, at all street circuits on the championship calendar. His results include race wins in Townsville and Sydney, and podiums in Adelaide, Hamilton, and the Gold Coast. This year he also had a race win and a third in the non-championship V8 Supercar event on the Albert Park street circuit during the Australian Formula One Grand Prix.
COURTNEY COMMENT: "Some of my best results have been on street circuits, going back to 2003 when I won a Formula 3 race at the Macau Grand Prix. In a V8 Supercar it usually gets hot on tracks like Homebush because the heat gets trapped between the concrete barriers. It's a test of fitness, and that's why I train hard. The other challenge at street circuits is the car slides around on the bumps, and you have to deal with running over man-hole covers, white lines, drains, and different cambers. You have to be fast to win, but you also have to minimise mistakes because if you run off the track you're probably going to hit a concrete wall."
COURTNEY COMMENTS ON TELSTRA 500 EVENT
The inaugural 2009 Telstra Sydney 500 at Homebush attracted 184,856 spectators over three days. Crowds were substantially bigger than at the 2008 championship events at permanent Sydney tracks Eastern Creek (28,511) and Oran Park (59,140).
COURTNEY COMMENT: "I grew up in Penrith, and it's great that Sydney now has a big V8 Supercar street race because it takes our sport to more people and not just motorsport fans. The indoor pits at Homebush last year were amazing and something different compared to our other events. It was popular with the fans because they could see the teams working on cars more than usual, and it was also more comfortable for them being inside. V8 Supercars have also done a good job with entertainment at Homebush, getting Cold Chisel to perform last year, and next week Guns N' Roses will be there."