Townsville: James Courtney preview

LIFE BEGINS AT 30 TODAY FOR BIRTHDAY BOY COURTNEY TUESDAY, JUNE 29: V8 Supercar Championship leader James Courtney aims to extend his 30th birthday celebrations today until next week to claim another race-winning trophy in Townsville. "They...

LIFE BEGINS AT 30 TODAY FOR BIRTHDAY BOY COURTNEY

TUESDAY, JUNE 29: V8 Supercar Championship leader James Courtney aims to extend his 30th birthday celebrations today until next week to claim another race-winning trophy in Townsville.

"They say life begins at 30 - it's birthday cake today and hopefully champagne on top of the podium in Townsville next week!" he quipped.

"I won a race in Townsville last year (2009), and another trophy when we go back there would be a perfect birthday present."

The Jim Beam Racing Ford Falcon driver goes into the eighth championship event in Townsville from July 9-11 leading the series by 57 points ahead of Jamie Whincup (Team Vodafone).

Courtney is spending his 30th birthday today relaxing at home on the Gold Coast with wife Carys, who celebrated her birthday on June 25, two-year-old daughter Zara and four-month-old son Cadel.

"Our kids think it's great their Mum and Dad have birthdays so close together because they get to eat cake twice in one week," said Courtney.

Courtney's wife surprised him with a Harley Davidson Night Rod Special motorcycle as a birthday gift in 2008, but this year the couple decided on a shared present - a weeklong holiday in picturesque Queenstown in New Zealand's South Island.

"Since Cadel was born (in February), I've been away so much for racing, but after Townsville Carys and I are going away for a few days to relax," he said.

Courtney said his family lifestyle was now far removed when he celebrated his 20th birthday a decade ago in 2000, the year he won the British Formula Ford Championship while based in London.

"I was living in Chelsea at the time and single so all I had to worry about was racing and having fun," he said. "The last 10 years have gone so fast - now I'm enjoying life in a different way with a family, but I'm still winning races so that hasn't changed!"

Courtney, who has won four races in this year's championship, said he expected to be competitive in both 200km races in Townsville next week based on his performances on the 2.8km street circuit in 2009.

"I led the first race until an engine problem put me out, and then I won the second race," he said.

The JELD-WEN sponsored driver has the unique distinction of either winning or finishing on the podium on all six street circuits V8 Supercars raced on in the past 12 months - wins at Townsville (2009), Sydney (2009) and Albert Park (2010), two second places at Adelaide (2010), and thirds at Surfers Paradise (2009) and Hamilton (2010).

"Street circuits are always a challenge, and Townsville is no different," said Courtney. "The car slides around on the bumps, and you have to deal with man-hole covers, white lines, and different cambers. You have to be quick, but there's less margin for a mistake or you hit concrete walls."

Courtney said Townsville's warm mid-winter climate would provide a demanding physical test for all 29 drivers in the two races.

"The in-car temperatures could be as high as 60-degrees, but I've been working hard with my trainer so my fitness shouldn't be a problem," he said.

Cars will be fitted with Dunlop's durable 'control' tyres for both races.

-source: James Courtney

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Series Supercars
Drivers James Courtney , Jamie Whincup , Jim Beam