COURTNEY EXTENDS CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD TO 120 POINTS Jim Beam Racing Ford Falcon driver James Courtney finished second in a race of attrition on the streets of Townsville today to extend his lead in this year's V8 Supercar Championship to 120 ...
COURTNEY EXTENDS CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD TO 120 POINTS
Jim Beam Racing Ford Falcon driver James Courtney finished second in a race of attrition on the streets of Townsville today to extend his lead in this year's V8 Supercar Championship to 120 points.
Courtney secured his eighth top-three podium finish from 16 races in this year's series after battling through a bout of influenza and hard mid-race contact with Craig Lowndes' Team Vodafone Commodore.
Jamie Whincup, Courtney's main championship rival, was a casualty in today's second race of the Townsville 400. Whincup led the opening seven laps, but brake problems forced a lengthy pit stop for repairs to his Team Vodafone Commodore and he finished 23rd.
Courtney secured 138 championship points for finishing second, and Whincup scored 36. Whincup went into today's race only 18 points behind Courtney after winning yesterday's opening race on the 2.8km street circuit.
After eight of the 14 championship events, JELD-WEN sponsored Courtney now leads with a tally of 1,947 points, with Whincup second on 1,827.
Mark Winterbottom (Ford Performance Racing) won today's 71-lap race, finishing 1.235-seconds ahead of Courtney after a lengthy dice for the lead in the closing stint. Garth Tander (Holden Racing Team) was third.
Courtney qualified fourth, and held fourth position for the opening seven laps. Winterbottom led after the first round of pit stops for fuel and fresh tyres, ahead of Tander, Lowndes, and Courtney.
On lap 42 Tander spun. Courtney, who was following, managed to avoid the HRT Commodore, but his FG Falcon was struck from behind by Lowndes' vehicle. Courtney's car was damaged, but he was able to continue, while Lowndes was forced to retire from the race.
After the second round of pit stops Winterbottom led from Courtney and Tander. The top three positions remained unchanged over the closing 25 laps. There is now a two-month break until the next event at Phillip Island from September 10-12.
COURTNEY QUOTES: "That was a tough race. Once I saw Jamie (Whincup) go out I kept pushing hard. Near the end I thought about having a lunge at the FPR car (Winterbottom), but it would have been a risk. Instead I thought it's best for the championship to stay second and settle for that. It's great to go into the long break leading the championship and that's exactly what our team wanted. I'm sure we are going to see Team Vodafone fight back. There was plenty of action happening when Garth (Tander) spun in front of me today. I saw him go to the wall and then he came back across track just when I got there. I was trying to pick my way through and then Craig (Lowndes) hit the back of my car. It bent my rear wing which upset the aerodynamics for the rest of the race, and there was some other damage. This is a physically tough track because there is nowhere to relax. I've had the 'flu' which didn't help, but when the adrenalin kicks in you just get on with it."
-source: james courtney