Courtney hopeful of running down the Bulls

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 30/03/2014
  • By V8 Supercars

James Courtney is hopeful his Holden Racing Team can overhaul the rampant Red Bull Racing Australia duo of Craig Lowndes and Jamie Whincup, despite the enormous task ahead.

Lowndes and Whincup wiped the floor with the rest of the field at the Tyrepower Tasmania 400. Lowndes won the final race today, having fought through 20 places in the last race Saturday, while Whincup won the first two.

It puts the two 1-2 in the Championship. Whincup came into the weekend seventh, his worst start to a season since 2005, but now finds himself second to his teammate.

Despite the RBRA cars' dominance Courtney is hopeful the remainder of the pack, including his team, can catch up before it gets too late.

"There are a few little things on the car this weekend that I felt improved it from what we had at Clipsal. But it's still a big hill to climb to challenge these guys on track performance without them dropping the ball," said Courtney.

"We have got our head down, we know what we have to do and the good thing is someone has turned the light on in the dark. We are a lot better balanced and focussed team at the moment.

"They are still clearly the benchmark and what we are chasing. You have to have some sort of goal and someone to chase so we are after them."

A cracking start gave Lowndes the strategy advantage over his teammate who was immediately called into the pits on the first lap as he was the second man. Lowndes forged away his lead until stopping, building an eight second lead at the 30-lap mark after both had stopped.

The first lap pit meant Lowndes had strategic advantage. Many times Lowndes has suffered the same fate when Whincup has been in front.

"We had two different strategies within the team that really came down to the start. We got away pretty well, then I put my head down to get a gap," he said.

"The strategy played out was what it was and what it was going to be. Essentially it was whoever got to the lead of the race. It was a matter of getting a gap knowing Jamie was going to pit first."

Whincup acknowledged the start of the race might make or break his winning chance.

"Today for me was a race to turn one. Craig got an absolute rocket so he deserved to lead the race, therefore I was compromised on strategy. So I peeled in on lap one to save exposure to a safety car," Whincup said.

"It's the same and it has been the same for five years. Whoever is first on track has priority. Nothing has changed, there is no conspiracy and no-one favours anyone else."

The mid-race was all about strategy and how much fuel used into the first stop.

Will Davison signalled the continuing upsurge of Erebus Motorsport V8 with fourth in his Mercedes-Benz AMG E63, equalling the same result Lee Holdsworth achieved at Sandown last October.

The big fight was between Whincup, Courtney and Scott McLaughlin for the remaining podium spots. The three were nose to tail for a large slice of the race, swapping positions dependant on stops; before Davison finished strongly to take fourth when McLaughlin had some steering damage as the result of an earlier pit exit clash with Whincup.

Davison then did a stellar job in the closing laps to keep out a fast-finishing Fabian Coulthard.

Coulthard, McLaughlin, Shane van Gisbergen, Tim Slade and Mark Winterbottom and David Reynolds completed the top 10.

Others to note include Jason Bright – who won a race here last year – in 17, Michael Caruso the best of the Nissans in 19, and Garth Tander 25 after front-end dramas.

Click here for full results.

The result means Lowndes boasts a 70-point Championship lead over Whincup, who has now jumped Coulthard in the standings. Click here for full Championship results. 

The next event is already less than a week away, the Winton 400 beginning on Friday in regional Victoria. 

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