BATHURST-BOUND COURTNEY EXTENDS CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD TO 179 POINTS James Courtney will head into next month's Bathurst 1000 leading the V8 Supercar Championship by an increased margin of 179 points, despite finishing a disappointing 12th in today's...
BATHURST-BOUND COURTNEY EXTENDS CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD TO 179 POINTS
James Courtney will head into next month's Bathurst 1000 leading the V8 Supercar Championship by an increased margin of 179 points, despite finishing a disappointing 12th in today's Phillip Island 500 in Victoria.
The Jim Beam Racing Ford Falcon driver extended his championship lead by a further 59 points at Phillip Island after title rival Jamie Whincup finished 29th.
Whincup and co-driver Steve Owen led for much of the 500km endurance race, but they completed only 104 of the 113 laps after a lengthy pit stop in the closing stages for repairs to their Team Vodafone Commodore.
Courtney went into the ninth championship round with a 120-point lead over Whincup. Courtney and team-mate Warren Luff scored 154 points on the 4.5km Phillip Island circuit, while Whincup and Owen earned 95.
The results left JELD-WEN sponsored Courtney with an overall championship total of 2,101 points and Whincup on 1,922 ahead of the 1000km endurance race at Mount Panorama from October 7-10.
Luff drove the opening two stints in the FG Falcon he shared with Courtney in today's race, and was fifth at the driver change on lap 47.
Courtney completed the race, but was forced to make an extra pit-stop after 'flat-spotting' a tyre when attempting to overtake Paul Dumbrell (Bottle-O Falcon). After recovering to seventh, Courtney lost further track positions in the closing stages when he briefly drove off the track through a gravel trap. The race was won by the Team Vodafone pairing of Craig Lowndes and Mark Skaife.
Race (500km - 113 laps): 12th, with Warren Luff (best lap 1-min 35.382-secs)
Fastest lap of race: Craig Lowndes (Team Vodafone) 1-min 34.801-secs
COURTNEY QUOTES: "Today was a 'shocker', but championship-wise we got lucky with Jamie (Whincup) having his own problems. Our car wasn't great, and then I flat-spotted tyres and fired off into a gravel trap. You have races like that every season, but we survived and finished. To come away from such a tough weekend with more than 150 points was great because it could easily have been much worse. We tried some more changes to the car in today' warm-up, but we couldn't nail the right set-up all weekend. The car was pushing and loading the tyres on the high-speed corners, especially the right front. The tyres were really bad for the last few laps, and that's when I went off and dropped some places. The good thing is we know our car will be much better at Bathurst and the next five tracks we go to."
CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS (after round 9): James Courtney (Ford) 2,101; Jamie Whincup (Holden) 1,922; Mark Winterbottom (Ford) 1,862; Craig Lowndes (Holden) 1,739; Shane Van Gisbergen (Ford) 1,689