CHAMPIONSHIP LEADER COURTNEY SAYS 'SOFT TYRES' WILL HELP HIM IN TASMANIA V8 Supercar Championship leader James Courtney believes the return of soft-compound 'sprint' tyre racing in Tasmania next week may help him in his battle for the 2010 title...
CHAMPIONSHIP LEADER COURTNEY SAYS 'SOFT TYRES' WILL HELP HIM IN TASMANIA
V8 Supercar Championship leader James Courtney believes the return of soft-compound 'sprint' tyre racing in Tasmania next week may help him in his battle for the 2010 title against Jamie Whincup.
"I've won four races this year on soft tyres, and I know we have a proven car set-up to get the most out of them," said the Jim Beam Racing Ford Falcon driver.
Courtney's four 2010 championship race wins on Dunlop's Sport Maxx 'sprint' tyres were in the rounds at Queensland Raceway and Winton in Victoria in May.
The JELD-WEN sponsored driver, who leads Whincup by 71 points after 11 of the 14 rounds, said he was confident of being competitive on 'sprint' tyres when the championship resumes at Symmons Plains near Launceston from November 12-14.
All cars will be allocated a set of 'sprint' tyres' for both the 120km and 200km races on the 2.4km Symmons Plains circuit. They will be fitted with Dunlop's durable 'control' rubber for the remainder of the races.
Courtney believes his results on 'sprint' tyres this year can be partly attributed to his overseas racing background before he returned to Australia to drive in the V8 Supercars series.
"Soft tyres are all I ever raced on from karting right through all the open-wheeler categories and Super GT in Japan," said Courtney.
"It's not foreign for me to know how to look after soft tyres. That experience pays dividends in terms of managing the tyres over a race distance."
"The extra grip from these (soft) tyres makes driving more fun. They also encourage passing because you have more confidence in the grip if you have a lunge at someone."
Assessing the Symmons Plains event, Courtney said he was wary of congestion on the circuit, especially after being eliminated from the second of two races at Symmons Plains in 2009 after contact with Dale Wood's Holden Commodore.
"The variable at this track is dealing with slower drivers," said Courtney.
"Lap times are around 52-seconds, which is less than other tracks so when cars are on different pit-stop strategies drivers are getting lapped, or unlapping themselves more often than usual."
"This can cause problems, as I found out last year, but it's the same for everyone and you have to deal with it."
"The hairpin at the end of the front straight is very tight, and when a group of cars are fighting for position there's always a chance someone will brake too late and T-bone whoever is in front of them."
Courtney remains positive about his championship prospects, despite being relegated from first to 10th in the closing laps of the first race of the Gold Coast 600 last weekend after receiving a Pit Lane Penalty for failing to maintain the prescribed speed during a Safety car restart.
"The penalty cost me plenty of points so it was a disappointment, but I'm still leading the championship and that's the best place to be," he said.
"We are getting near the end of the championship so every lap of every race is crucial. It's exciting, but I'm staying calm."
"I'm getting plenty of support from Ford fans, and it's becoming a classic battle to the finish because Jamie (Whincup) is with a Holden team."