Courtney: the rebuild is over!

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 26/08/2014
  • By V8 Supercars

It's official. The rebuilding phase at the Holden Racing Team is over.

Instead, insists James Courtney, the factory team has got to the stage where it is a podium threat at every V8 Supercars Championship event.

"We can definitely say with the speed we have shown for the last three or four race meetings in a row the rebuilding phase is over," Courtney told v8supercars.com.au.

"We are definitely kicking goals."

Courtney wasn't only broadcasting that message externally yesterday evening, but also hammering it home to his HRT crew, who were still dealing with the disappointment of failing to finish the double points 200km Race 28 at the Sydney Motorsports Park 400.

Courtney had qualified fourth for the race, led the first lap, then settled into second behind Volvo's Scott McLaughlin until the Holden Commodore VF's transaxle sprung an oil leak and eventually failed, forcing him out of the race.

It was a potentially crucial Championship blow for Courtney. A podium finish would have meant making points on Red Bull duo Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowndes, Ford Performance Racing's Mark Winterbottom and Tekno Autosport's Shane van Gisbergen.

Instead, the DNF meant he dropped from fourth to sixth on the Championship points table, 337 points behind leader Whincup.

"It's not good for the Championship, especially when guys like Winterbottom and Lowndes and the guys we were racing (in the Championship) were having shockers and we were looking like having a really strong finish.

"But there is still a lot of racing to go and the encouraging thing is we are not wobbling around in 15th with these cars, we are in the front and have good car speed.

"Qualifying was great this morning, the start was fantastic and everything was going well until this (transaxle issue). So we have more positives than negatives, but for sure everyone wants the Championship."

Courtney said HRT had now entered the "tinkering and tweaking phase".

"You never stop developing. We are still chasing and still have things to come for the cars as every team does.

"We are still chipping away, there are still some things we are getting through to get on the cars, so although it's crap we didn't finish we could be FPR and have nothing go wrong and finish where they did.

"It is so encouraging the speed we have got, the results we are getting and with the stuff we know is coming, it is keeping us pretty excited here."

The Holden Racing Team has been through a series of rebuilds in recent years as owner Ryan Walkinshaw has pushed to improve its competitiveness against dominant Tripe Eight Engineering, which has won the Drivers and Teams Championship three times each in the four years it has had factory Holden backing.

Most recently, Walkinshaw recruited Triple Eight team boss Adrian Burgess to run the four car Walkinshaw Racing squad - which also includes Tim Slade's Supercheap Auto and Nick Percat's HHA Racing entries.

Burgess has instituted a sweeping restructure of the organisation, recruited new personnel and overseen literally hundreds of changes to the team's Holden Commodores and the way they are operated.

Courtney has won two races and consistently threatened the front of the field. After a slow start to the year his team-mate Garth Tander has also won a race and is in strong form while Percat's second place in Race 28 underlined his ongoing improvement.

Only Slade has been not enjoyed success, his season hitting rock bottom at the SMP 400 when put out of the event on the first lap of the first race.

The next step for HRT and Walkinshaw racing is a two-day test at Winton on September 1-2 where more developments will be tested and the four co-drivers - Greg Murphy (Courtney), Warren Luff (Tander), Tony D'Alberto (Slade) and British import Oliver Gavin (Percat) will get plenty of seat time.

"I think it is pretty encouraging the pace we have got at the moment," said Courtney. "Everyone is motivated, in good spirits and going into the important phase of the season, there are 900 points in the next three races and I ... couldn't have asked for a better partner in the car than Murph."

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