Former V8 Supercar Champion James Courtney back swinging in Townsville.
Former Champion James Courtney is not too naïve to think the V8 Supercar front-runners may be battling at the Sucrogen Townsville 400 but confident his famous Holden Racing Team can 'swing the hammer' with the best.
Courtney was amongst the lead pack at the last event and again in Townsville during practice, finishing third behind The Bottle-O FPR Ford of David Reynolds and Fujitsu GRMs Scott McLaughlin.
Recent Friday practice sessions have only been a loose guide to the weekend to come but finished with Championship leader Jamie Whincup 17th and his Red Bull Australia Racing team-mate Craig Lowndes in 15th.
The soft and hard tyres allowed to run on Friday meant the results were hard to gauge but regardless Courtney believes there may be some vulnerability at the top of the field.
"It was down to tyre quality and traffic today," Courtney said.
"We are not thinking that they are going to be down the back wobbling around. Tomorrow they are definitely going to be in the 10 and pushing us. (But) it's nice to be swinging the hammer with them and not looking on from a distance."
Courtney and his team-mate Garth Tander had issues with kerbs today with a new front end designed following the Texas 400 in Austin in May on the first street track since the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide. Tander was forced to pull out of the last session with a broken damper.
"We have changed the front of the car drastically and come to a track where for the first time we are really using the kerbs. It's an issue that held us up today but we will fix the problem overnight," said Courtney.
"We know what we have to do. You get these hurdles. It has hindered us today but won't be an issue tomorrow."
Still he believed he and Tander would be on the pace for the second event running.
"The car has been improving, everyone can see that. We had some problems with dampers breaking this morning so we couldn't run what we wanted. We ran old spec and will fly some parts up tonight for tomorrow," he said.
"The pace is quite good. Hard tyre pace was pretty good, we are happy with that. We are confident. Garth was also speedy through the day but got a bit carried away and broke his damper as well so he had to sit out part of the last session.
"Townsville does an amazing job putting on the event here. The presentation of the circuit is fantastic and it's always good coming up in the sunshine to thaw out. There has only been three guys that have won here, myself, Garth and Jamie. It would be good to get another one here."
Reynolds should have won in Darwin but for a run-in with FPR team-mate Mark Winterbottom having started on Armor All Pole Position. He was fastest in practice in Townsville last year on a track he likes.
"As a general category we love coming to Townsville because the people are very friendly and the track layout is quite good," Reynolds said.
"There's a bit of tyre life drama for me as we haven't been going back to that. Mark's (Winterbottom) car is good on tyre life so we can always go to what he is doing. We are back to fuel stops and long 70-lap races which is another mentality to deal with."
Following Reynolds in the top five were McLaughlin - just 0.0455sec slower, Courtney, and the Norton Hornets of James Moffat and Michael Caruso. The pair of Nissans topped an earlier practice session today.
Following another practice tomorrow morning - which begins at 9.10am EST and is being streamed live on V8 SuperView - is ARMOR ALL Qualifying, Top 10 Shootout and the first 200km, 70-lap race around the Reid Park street circuit.