FANS VOTE COURTNEY MOST POPULAR V8 SUPERCAR DRIVER

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 15: Fans have voted new V8 Supercar champion James Courtney as the most popular driver in the category in a poll conducted by national weekly motorsport magazine Auto Action.

Courtney claimed most votes in the 'Most Popular V8 Supercar Driver' and the 'V8 Supercar Driver of the Year' categories in the 2010 Auto Action Awards.

Results of the reader poll were revealed today, less than 24 hours after Courtney was announced as a Toll Holden Racing Team driver for 2011 and the same day he drove an HRT Commodore for the first time at Philip Island in Victoria.

Courtney, who won this year's championship in a Jim Beam Racing Ford Falcon, won Auto Action's 'Most Popular V8 Supercar Driver' award with 31 percent of the vote. Rick Kelly from Jack Daniel's Racing was second with 17-percent, followed by Team Vodafone's Craig Lowndes on 16-percent.

In the 'V8 Supercar Driver of the Year Award', Courtney polled 41-percent of the vote, with Jamie Whincup of Team Vodafone second with 22-percent.

Courtney believes the voting results reflect an appreciation by fans of his former team's efforts in winning the championship after a season-long battle with Whincup and Team Vodafone.

"We were a much smaller team, and I think the fans liked seeing the underdogs taking on the 'big guys' and beating them," said Courtney.

"Our fans are among the most passionate you will find in any sport and they know what's going on."

While Courtney won the popularity vote with fans, the JELD-WEN sponsored driver did not fare so well in results of Auto Action's 2010 Drivers' Poll, also announced in today's edition of the magazine.

The 30-year-old was voted 'Most Arrogant Driver' in an anonymous poll among the 29 drivers in the final championship round in Sydney earlier this month.

"You've got to love the way these guys can confuse themselves," Courtney joked.

"A couple of years ago they voted me 'Most Over-Rated' driver and now I've won the championship! Maybe they should ask the fans?"

Courtney, a former Jaguar Formula One test driver and two-times karting world champion, this month also won the Barry Sheene Medal at the annual V8 Supercar Awards for outstanding leadership, personality, fan appeal, and sportsmanship.

He drove an HRT Commodore for the first time today during a team sponsor ride event at Phillip Island.

-source: jamescourtney.com.au