Courtney confident despite losing lead

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 31/03/2015
  • By V8 Supercars

James Courtney described an early Championship lead as a luxury and wasn't concerned about losing the top spot to Jamie Whincup after Sunday's race at the Tyrepower Tasmania SuperSprint.

The Holden Racing Team hero, who continued his Clipsal 500 form with two podiums on Saturday at Symmons Plains, found himself buried in the pack come Sunday's 200km, 150 points race.

And while his was able to claw his way to the top 10 and hold on to second in the Championship, qualifying back in 12th was ultimately what hurt the #22.

Because Courtney qualified behind teammate Garth Tander, he started the race on hard Dunlop tyres, while most of those ahead (except Mark Winterbottom in ninth) started on softs.

"We started on hards, which compromised our whole day, so really on the back foot right from the start," he told v8supercars.com.au.

"We had to split the strategy because Garth was in front. It was so close, so we had to take the worst of the two options, but in the end we got beaten up quite a lot at the start."

While the race result was not ideal, finishing 10th still earned him a reasonable haul of points, now trailing the eventual race winner - and Champion for the past four years, Whincup - by 19 points.

With only two Championship events done and dusted, only 50 points separates the top six, which include both HRT drivers, both Red Bull drivers, Winterbottom and Shane van Gisbergen - all expected contenders.

Courtney wasn't worried about dropping to second, and is positive about next event Perth, which features from May 1-3 at the tyre chewing Barbagallo Raceway.

"It's a luxury to be in the lead so early - there's still a long way to go, a lot of racing to go," he says.

"Perth - we had good car speed there last year, Garth's a wizard there. Pretty confident that once we get there we'll be a lot better.

"I think if we weren't so bad in qualifying [on Sunday], in the race we would've been a lot further up and had the lead. But that's racing, that's what happens and we'll see what happens next time."

The start to Sunday was a bit different for Courtney, with an early Stewards hearing after an incident with Will Davison the day before.

The two clashed on-track on the first lap at the notorious hairpin and the drivers had words in the HRT garage, Davison storming in and Courtney's playful demeanor firing up his competitor further.

The contact was deemed a racing incident, and while Erebus pushed the point and appealed the decision, it was not overturned.

"Enough has been said about it," Courtney said when asked of the choice to appeal.

"He got the answer I think the world knew was going to happen, but it just cost them a little bit more to hear it again.

"Look, in the end he's the one who looked like a fool, not me - so I'll keep racing away and having a good time."

Courtney was positive about Perth, though there is some time before thenext Championship event.

"We were quick there last year... I think this year we'll be a lot better, our car's a lot better in that style of corner through 'the bowl' [turn six] where we struggled last year.

"It should be a lot better this year so I'm pretty confident."

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