Courtney calls for ‘big changes’ at Mobil 1 HSV
- By Stefan Bartholomaeus
- Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
James Courtney has apologised to fans and called for ‘big changes’ at Mobil 1 HSV Racing following a dismal weekend at Barbagallo.
After difficult runs at Symmons Plains and Phillip Island, Courtney’s season reached new lows at the Perth SuperSprint.
The 2010 Supercars champion qualified 24th on Saturday and finished 17th, before again struggling to 20th on the grid yesterday.
He had appeared set to salvage 13th from the Sunday race before being forced to pit for fuel three laps from the end after the team had failed to reach the minimum fuel drop.
Taking the flag 22nd and dropping to 15th in points as a result, a dejected Courtney took to social media to pour out his disappointment post-race.
“It’s been a horrendous weekend for us as a team,” he said in a video message to fans.
“I’m gutted. All the boys here put in crazy hours and to get them (the cars) ready.
“For us to come away with no result at all is not good enough.
“We’ll have a look at everything and work out what’s going on.
“I’d like to say sorry to everyone. I’m trying my best and it’s just not coming together.
“There’s a lot of work to do but we’ll press on and see how we go. Hopefully we have some good news to come.
“We need some big changes here at the team and hopefully they come sooner rather than later so we can start to get results.”
Team-mate Scott Pye fared only marginally better, finishing 20th and 14th in the respective races to maintain his 18th place in the championship.
Ryan Walkinshaw was at Barbagallo overseeing his team’s efforts and told Supercars.com that there will be a frank analysis of the performance away from the circuit.
“We have to look at how all the cars are working on the track,” he said, stressing that “no one is more frustrated than myself” about the team’s performance.
“We didn’t have a bad weekend here last year, so we need to understand what when right last year and what went wrong this year.
“There have been a few changes on the car obviously in that time and we just need to get our heads around the data when we get back, not look at it with any emotion but with a rational mindset and move on for the next weekend.”
Courtney’s frustration at Barbagallo saw him publicly cast doubt over the current #22 chassis, which was parked last year after complaints from Garth Tander that its reactions to set-up changes were inconsistent.
The car was stripped to bare metal and twist-tested over the off-season, with the team discovering no issues before rebuilding it as a spare and eventually pushing it back into service following Courtney’s crash at Symmons Plains.
While Courtney suggested that “maybe Garth was right and maybe that car is possessed”, Walkinshaw bristled at suggestions that the chassis might again have to be parked ahead of Winton in two weeks.
“We are going to look at all the evidence, but it will be based on evidence, not what people in the press talking about it and what previous drivers have said about it,” he said.
“We have done every test we can possibly think of doing on that chassis to make sure it is up to scratch and it has come out fine in every test we have done.
“I would suggest it has more to do with us not having the car set up in the right window at the moment and we need to sort it out.”