COURTNEY FIFTH BUT RETAINS CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD Jim Beam Racing Ford Falcon driver James Courtney retained the lead in this year's V8 Supercar Championship despite finishing fifth in today's first race of the Townsville 400 in North ...
COURTNEY FIFTH BUT RETAINS CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD
Jim Beam Racing Ford Falcon driver James Courtney retained the lead in this year's V8 Supercar Championship despite finishing fifth in today's first race of the Townsville 400 in North Queensland.
Courtney's lead was reduced to 18 points when title rival Jamie Whincup (Team Vodafone) won the 72-lap (200km) race. Their battle for first position will resume tomorrow with another 200km race, which will complete the eighth event of the championship.
On the second lap of today's race Courtney's FG Falcon made contact with the Jim Beam Racing Ford driven by team-mate Steven Johnson.
The pair started on the third row after Courtney qualified fifth and Johnson sixth. They made contact when Courtney attempted to pass Johnson at a right-hand corner. Johnson spun and dropped to 21st position before recovering to finish 11th.
After the incident Courtney was seventh, but moved up to fifth by lap 11. The JELD-WEN sponsored driver was fifth when he made his two pit stops for fuel and fresh tyres on laps 22 and 47, and held the position for the remainder of the race.
In the final laps Courtney closed on fourth-placed Lee Holdsworth, and finished 0.390-seconds behind the Fujitsu Commodore driver. Courtney, who led Whincup by 57 championship points before today's race, scored 111 points for his result. Whincup earned 150 points for his victory on the 2.8km track.
Qualifying: 5th (best lap 1-min 13.342-secs)
Top 10 Shoot Out: 5th (best lap 1-min 13.912-secs)
Race 1 (72 laps): 5th (best lap 1-min 14.171-secs)
Fastest lap of race: Garth Tander (Holden Racing Team) 1-min 13.764-secs
COURTNEY QUOTES: "I struggled in the last sector of the lap all day - the car didn't have the drive in that last little bit (of the lap). It was the same in qualifying and in the race. The contact with Steve's car happened when I locked the rears and went in. It was unintentional and unfortunate, especially as he's my team-mate. We spoke afterwards and Steve was disappointed, but we will move on. There was some damage to the brake ducts on my car from the hit, and the downforce was affected. I've also had a cold. It's something I caught off my kids. I've been taking some medication to keep my nose dry. Hopefully we can re-group tomorrow and have a better day."