COURTNEY LEADS CHAMPIONSHIP BY 57 POINTS AT HALFWAY STAGE Jim Beam Racing Ford Falcon driver James Courtney holds a 57-point lead at the halfway stage of this year's V8 Supercar Championship after finishing fourth in today's 200km race in ...
COURTNEY LEADS CHAMPIONSHIP BY 57 POINTS AT HALFWAY STAGE
Jim Beam Racing Ford Falcon driver James Courtney holds a 57-point lead at the halfway stage of this year's V8 Supercar Championship after finishing fourth in today's 200km race in Darwin.
After seven of the 14 championship events, Courtney leads with a tally of 1,698 points, followed on 1,641 by Jamie Whincup, who won today's race at Hidden Valley in a Team Vodafone Commodore.
The second half of the championship begins with the eighth event from July 9-11 in Townsville, where Courtney won a race in the 2009 series on durable Dunlop 'control' tyres.
The JELD-WEN sponsored driver scored 231 championship points in the seventh event at Hidden Valley. He finished fifth in yesterday's opening race over 120km and fourth today. They were his best championship results on the 2.9km track - his previous highest finish was sixth in the second of three races in 2006. Whincup claimed 288 championship points from the two races at Hidden Valley.
Today's race featured all 29 drivers competing with a mix of soft-compound 'sprint' tyres and 'control' rubber. Each car was allocated one set of 'sprint' tyres to use at any stage of the 69-lap race.
Courtney, who qualified fifth, began the race on 'sprint' tyres and was third when he made his first pit-stop on lap 17. The 29-year-old raced on 'control' tyres for the remainder of the race. He was third when he made his second and final pit-stop on lap 43.
With 11 laps remaining Courtney was second. However, he was relegated to fourth in the closing laps after being passed by Mark Winterbottom (Ford Performance Racing) and Shane Van Gisbergen (SP Tools Falcon), whose cars were fitted with 'sprint' tyres for their final stints.
Courtney's race results in the first half of this year's championship include four wins, two each at Queensland Raceway and Winton, two second places in Adelaide, and a third at Hamilton in New Zealand.
COURTNEY QUOTES: "Roll on Townsville! We weren't as competitive here (Hidden Valley) as we wanted to be. The balance of my car was better today, compared to the first race, but the long corners at this track are unique with quite a bit of camber. This has been a 'bogey' track for me over the years, so to come away with fourth and fifth in the two races wasn't so bad. I ran with the soft tyres at the start, but I lost time trying to get around the Kellys (Todd and Rick). Near the end (Mark) Winterbottom and Shane (Van Gisbergen) passed me - they had better tyres and I couldn't defend. Championship-wise Jamie (Whincup) outscored me this weekend, but I'm not licking any wounds. I'm confident I can bounce back in Townsville. I won the second race there last year and I was leading the first race until we had an engine problem. It's a street circuit and some of my best results have been on those types of tracks. We should be back up the front again."