COURTNEY'S CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD CUT TO 41 POINTS IN TASMANIA

James Courtney's lead in this year's V8 Supercar Championship was cut to 41 points after he finished 11th in today's first race of the 12th round in Tasmania.

Courtney's result on the 2.4km Symmons Plains circuit near Launceston was only the second time he has finished outside the top 10 from the 21 races held to date in this year's series.

The Jim Beam Racing Ford Falcon driver went into today's 50-lap race with a 71-point championship lead over Jamie Whincup (Team Vodafone). Whincup finished sixth today, scoring 102 points, while Courtney earned 72 points. The race was won by Whincup's team-mate Craig Lowndes.

The results of today's race leave Courtney leading the championship with 2,593 points, followed by Whincup on 2,552, and Lowndes on 2,405. The Symmons Plains round will be completed with a 200km race tomorrow.

Courtney qualified 12th for today's race, and started on his allocated set of soft-compound Dunlop 'sprint' tyres. The JELD-WEN sponsored driver was 12th during most of his opening stint and made his pit-stop on lap 19. He was 11th for the final 18 laps, holding off challenges from Jason Bright (Trading Post Commodore) and Shane Van Gisbergen (SP Tools Falcon).

COURTNEY RESULTS:
Qualifying - Race 1: 12th (best lap 52.089-secs)
Race 1 Result (50 laps): 11th (best lap 52.152-secs)
Fastest lap of race: Craig Lowndes (Team Vodafone) 51.733-secs

COURTNEY QUOTES: "I'm never happy with 11th, regardless of whether I'm chasing a championship or not. For some reason the car just wasn't there in today's race. It reacted completely differently to the way we thought it would. I couldn't get any turn at the hairpin. There was a lot of push and that leaves you vulnerable into the left-hander at the end of the back straight where the passing happens. It's quite a long time since I've started a race mid-pack, and cars were going everywhere on the first lap, especially the run into the hairpin. Hopefully I can qualify better for tomorrow's race. Qualifying is tough at this track because the lap is so short and the (lap) times are incredibly close. There is plenty of traffic and finding space for a full quick lap isn't easy. It's part of the challenge of racing at this track - we all have to deal with and I have to do it better tomorrow."

-source: jamescourtney.com.au