Courtney determined to conquer bogey circuit

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 18/04/2017
  • By Lewis Isaacs

James Courtney is eager to repay the hard work of his Mobil 1 HSV Racing crew by breaking his podium duck at Phillip Island aboard a rapidly built spare car.

Courtney has switched back to the team's spare chassis after his regular mount was heavily damaged at Symmons Plains.

The 2010 champion slipped from second to eighth in points by missing the Sunday race in Tasmania, putting an early dent in his title hopes.

“Any time you’re handing back points is really bad,” Courtney told Supercars.com ahead of Phillip Island.

“If we had a good clean weekend and stayed towards the front, we could have kept that points deficit to Fabian (Coulthard) as tight as possible.

“But there’s a long way to go and everyone will have a bad one at some point. 

“Hopefully ours is early in the year and we can now press on and not worry about it."

Courtney believes the crash at Symmons Plains masked the progress his team has made after struggling for consistency over recent seasons.

“All the way until qualifying, where as a team we made the wrong call, we had good pace in most of the sessions,” he said.

“We were top three or top five. As a step forward, we made one there. 

“It’s just unfortunate on Saturday with everything that happened we couldn’t show it all. 

“We did a ride day at the end of last year at Phillip Island and the car felt a thousand times better than when we were there last year (for the race meeting).

“It was one of our weakest tracks last year and the problem there is the corners are so long. 

“There’s nowhere to hide and problems get magnified because you’re spending a lot more time in that phase. 

“I’m pretty certain we’ve got a lot better package than this time last year.”

James Courtney of Walkinshaw Racing during the Tyrepower Tasmania SuperSprint,  at the Symmons Plains Raceway, Launceston, Tasmania, April 07, 2017.

Remarkably, Courtney is yet to score a podium finish at Phillip Island in 12 previous visits to the seaside venue.

Following the workload placed on the Mobil 1 HSV Racing crew over Easter, Courtney says this weekend is an ideal chance to pay the squad back.

“Even the year I won the championship I only came fourth there,” he concluded. 

“It’s unusual. Especially since we’ve been in the championship for a while. 

“It’d be nice to do it this weekend with everything that’s happened after Tassie with the crazy man-hours have had to put in and repay those guys. 

“They didn’t have much of an Easter with their families, so to repay them is exactly what we’re going to do.”

Courtney has a habit of performing strongly after time on the sidelines, winning on return from injury at the Gold Coast in 2015 and Adelaide in 2014.

“It should be a seamless transition,” he said of stepping into the spare car.

“At the end of last year it got freshly painted and put back on the jig to make sure it was sweet and stress-tested and twist-tested and it all came up perfect.”

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