Phillip Island: James Courtney qualifying report

COURTNEY'S CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD REDUCED BY NINE POINTS James Courtney's lead in this year's V8 Supercar Championship was reduced by nine points by title rival Jamie Whincup in today's qualifying races for the Phillip Island 500 endurance event in...

COURTNEY'S CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD REDUCED BY NINE POINTS

James Courtney's lead in this year's V8 Supercar Championship was reduced by nine points by title rival Jamie Whincup in today's qualifying races for the Phillip Island 500 endurance event in Victoria tomorrow.

Courtney and Jim Bean Racing Ford Falcon team-mate Warren Luff secured third position on the grid after scoring a combined total of 62 championship points in today's separate 14-lap qualifying races.

Whincup and Team Vodafone Commodore co-driver Steve Owen claimed pole position for the ninth championship round with a collective tally of 71 points.

Today's results cut Courtney's championship lead over Whincup from 120 points to 111. Courtney leads the series with an overall score of 2,009 points with Whincup second on 1,898.

Each team was required to complete one pit-stop in either of today's two qualifying races on the 4.5km Phillip Island circuit.

Courtney drove in the second of the two qualifying races and finished third without a pit stop. The JELD-WEN sponsored driver was second for the opening six laps until passed by Craig Lowndes (Team Vodafone). The race was won by Rick Kelly (Jack Daniel's Commodore).

Luff contested the first race, and was 16th and first driver to finish among those of who made pit stops. Whincup's team-mate Steve Owen won the race.

Earlier in the day Courtney and Luff drove in separate qualifying sessions. Courtney was fourth quickest in the second session, while Luff was second in the opening session.

Courtney, who has won four races in this year's championship, finished fourth in the 2009 Phillip Island 500, while Luff was sixth.

COURTNEY QUOTES: "I made a cracking start (to the qualifying race) from the second row. The other guys seemed to be going nowhere fast so I slipped down the inside and got up to second. We made some changes to the car before the race, but they didn't work. I was struggling with the handling and wasn't as quick as I needed to be. Apart from that, the fuel economy seems good and that's always important in these long races. We will tune the car up for tomorrow and hopefully it will be a jet in the race. Warren (Luff) did a good job today. It's a big effort for someone outside the championship like him to step in and go second fastest in his session ahead of many of the regulars."

-source: james courtney

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Series Supercars
Drivers James Courtney , Rick Kelly , Craig Lowndes , Jamie Whincup , Steve Owen , Warren Luff , Phillip Island