Courting trouble

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 30/03/2016
  • By Kassie Gadeke

James Courtney has opened up on last year’s controversial season start that saw him involved in a number of high-profile incidents.

The Holden Racing Team star was vocal about being aggressive as he fought in the top five of the championship in the first half of the year, before a freak helicopter incident at Sydney Motorsport Park ended his chances.

This weekend’s Tyrepower Tasmania SuperSprint takes the 2010 V8 Supercars champion back to the scene of an explosive clash with Will Davison, which had the then-Erebus driver fired up and storming into the HRT garage. At the time he said of Courtney: “the arrogance on the bloke’s just pathetic, I feel sorry for him”. 

Erebus protested over the incident, but the Stewards ultimately dismissed the contact and Courtney was not penalised.

Courtney gave a typically cheeky but blunt response when asked on the Inside Supercars panel what he thought of Davison after it all.

“Not much,” the HRT driver said.

“I’m not affected by what Will thinks about me. Everyone’s entitled to their opinion but I’m not going to lose sleep over if Will likes me or not.

“I’m not here to make friends with anyone, I’m here to win stuff for HRT.”

Just two rounds later, the clashes on track became more serious for Courtney who took out two of his Walkinshaw Racing teammates, including Garth Tander, at Winton.

Another teammate tangle at the following round in Darwin pushed Tander’s patience and had fans on the edge of their seats every time the two red cars were near one another on-track.

Hard racing between the two unfolded again at the recent non-championship Australian Grand Prix but team boss Adrian Burgess was fine with it and Courtney said the teammates enjoyed the stoush and played it up for the crowd.

“Obviously last year was a bit frosty through that period where unfortunately I took him out – not through us directly driving into each other, it was me involved in another accident which then dragged him in,” Courtney explained.

“But we both got out of the car after that race (at the grand prix) and we were laughing, that was crazy. I was like, ‘I was up here, I was flashing you on the lights’. We were mucking around, people thought we were angry at each other!

“I’d rather race hard than (have) someone just move over and wave you through. You’ve got to earn it – Garth definitely makes you earn it.”

The teammates’ relationship was scrutinised last year, with Tander admitting at the time that he was frustrated after Darwin and unsure things would be the same between them.

Courtney believes the decision to downsize Walkinshaw Racing to two cars for 2016 so the focus was solely on HRT helped both drivers relax about the season ahead.

“We’ve got a great relationship in the team now.

“I said before, Garth seems a lot more relaxed and more comfortable as well this year with us. With our relationship we’re both a bit more cruisy, there’s not the stress of having another two cars.”

While Courtney finished on the podium in two of the three races at Symmons Plains last year, he is yet to win a V8 Supercars race in Tasmania.

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