In the past seven-years, only one man has succeeded in besting Jamie Whincup where all others have failed…and he’s keen on doing it again this year.
We are without a doubt living in the era of Jamie Whincup.
The 32-year old V8 Supercar driver from Melbourne, Victoria has won a historic six out of the past seven V8 Supercars championships and has been smashing records of every sort along the way. However, that blip in history which has stopped Whincup from a complete seven-time domination was achieved in 2010 by one man: James Courtney.
Although he is predominantly known as the 2010 V8 Supercar champion, Courtney has raced successfully in several categories all over the world throughout his career which began when he was only seven-years old. A World Junior Karting champion in 1995, World Formula A champion in 1997, British Formula Ford champion in 2000 (where he broke the record for the most Formula Ford race wins in a one season) and the 2003 Japanese Formula 3 champion, Courtney eventually made the decision to forgo his overseas racing and decided to head back home to Australia.
“I’d had enough. I’d been away long enough, I’d achieved what I’d wanted to,” said Courtney in 2011 on his return home to Australia.
Although Courtney debuted in V8 Supercars as a co-driver with the Holden Racing Team (HRT) in 2005, his first full-time V8 gig came when NASCAR-bound Marcos Ambrose left the category that same year. Courtney was able to secure Ambrose’s vacated seat at Stone Brothers Racing in 2006 but it would take nearly two-years before the young star achieved his first V8 win in 2008.
After mediocre success at Stone Brothers, Courtney made the switch to Dick Johnson Racing in 2009 and, after a seventh place finish that year, went on to take the championship in 2010 with team manager, Adrian Burgess, by his side.
The very next year, Courtney made the controversial switch back to where he started with HRT. Since then, however, the former champion has had mixed results.
In 2013, Courtney got the boost he was needing when it was announced that Adrian Burgess would be defecting from Red Bull Racing Australia and would be rejoining with Courtney at HRT.
From that point forward, Courtney has slowly been working his way back towards the front as was evident by his win at the Clipsal 500 earlier this month. Having also won the event last year, Courtney now sits amongst such drivers such as Mark Skaife, Jamie Whincup and Marcos Ambrose as he becomes one of the few drivers to win back-to-back Clipsal 500 victories.
Courtney has undoubtedly seen his share of ups and downs over the years. However, with the HRT’s self-proclaimed ‘rebuilding years’ now behind them, this could potentially be the year we see Courtney shine once again.
“You go into every championship wanting to win,” said Courtney. “This year, I really believe that we can. I think we’ve got the car and the package and the team behind me.
“It’s time to take someone else to win the championship. We managed to bust him (Whincup) up before and win the championship a couple of years back. He’s got two arms and legs like every one of us and we saw that this weekend (at the Clipsal 500) that they’re not invincible so we’re out there to do it.”
Although it’s still very early in the season, Courtney currently leads the championship heading into the Tasmania Supersprint which takes place this weekend at Symmons Plains.
Last year, however, Whincup dominated in Tasmania with two wins, a podium and an eventful incident involving him tripping over his teammate, Craig Lowndes, during a pass for the lead. But with momentum on his side, Courtney hopes to carry his HRT Holden Commodore to the top step once again.
Both HRT drivers (Courtney and Garth Tander) will be running an ANZAC Appeal (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) tribute livery in Tasmania this weekend to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landings in 1915.