Courtney chases Championship lead

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 15/05/2015
  • By V8 Supercars

James Courtney hopes 300 is his lucky number as he continues his best Championship winning chance in three years.

Courtney is second in the Championship, 52 points behind Craig Lowndes and in a good position to emulate his breakthrough title of 2011.

He enters this weekend's NP300 Nissan Navara Winton SuperSprint with good form and third to a flying Chaz Mostert in the Pepsi Max Prodrive Falcon. James Moffat, who broke through for Nissan Motorsport at Winton two years ago, sits in second.

Courtney tomorrow will celebrate 300 races in V8 Supercars in the first of the two SuperSprint races on the same weekend his Holden Racing Team celebrates 300 events as the most decorated team in Australian Touring Car history.

At the same time he hopes to close the gap on Lowndes.

"The thing is hooked up really well but we do have some development parts in the engine. We have been carrying something we haven't wanted throughout the day.

"I was happy with the way the car reacted, it's giving me what I wanted on the soft tyre. Here it is not about straight line speed it's about the tyre and how you manage it."

Courtney, a two-time World Karting Champion and British Formula Ford winner, returned from being on the verge of scoring a Formula 1 seat that only ended with a horrific crash in testing at Monza.

The only regret he now has is not spending more time in V8 Supercars.

"I am happy with where I am. I am probably kicking myself now wondering why I bothered with that bulls$@t and not come back earlier. I am having fun back here. It's the best touring car Championship in the world and that shows," Courtney said.

"They are very, very unique cars that are very hard to drive. They stack up pretty quick. It's good, been around a while I guess. It's a massive challenge and I have loved my time back here. Sometimes you get lost in the dream and lose a sense of reality and touch with what proper racing is all about."

It appears the biggest threat to the field tomorrow is Mostert who was miles ahead of everyone on the timesheets a fortnight after scoring his first ARMOR ALL Pole Position in Perth and second in both Saturday races behind team-mate Mark Winterbottom.

He also confirmed this week that he has re-signed with Prodrive for another two seasons. Mostert set today's fastest time on hard tyres, making the gap seem even bigger.

"There's a bit of a different setup this weekend so let's hope it carries forward. The FG X has one lap pace which is better than the FG we had last year," Mostert said.

"When you don't quite have the car setup and you are still finishing around sixth or seventh it's a good feeling. Then when you do get it right and you get chances for pole."

The Pepsi Max Crew driver was strong at the last event in Perth, and now Mostert - who set his 1min23.015 on Dunlop hard tyres - has shown good pace ahead of qualifying tomorrow in the hour-long session.

While Winterbottom was running last in the final minute, a last lap dash saw him shift to 19th, at a circuit he believes will test the new FG X.

With Red Bull looking to break its recent bad run at the 3km Victorian circuit, Craig Lowndes pulled up 10th in the session, but teammate and reigning Champion Jamie Whincup finished 20th.

Teams were given an additional set of green hard tyres for today's practice sessions, which will be handed back tonight, and then returned to the teams after the racing, to add to their testing/practice tyre banks.

There is a short practice session tomorrow morning before back-to-back qualifying and two 60km races at the NP300 Navara SuperSprint.

Television times:

Saturday - Race 10: 13.50, Race 11: 16.20, FOX SPORTS 506

Highlights: 20.30 ONE, 24.00 Ten.

Sunday - Race 12: 13.15, FOX SPORTS 506

Highlights: 16.00 Ten, 20.30 ONE.

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