Courtney puts the Holden Racing Team back in the winner's circle
Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
By V8 Supercars
With the band back together James Courtney put the Holden Racing Team in the winner’s circle in another epic Clipsal 500 Adelaide on the mad South Australian streets.
Courtney swiped his former team manager from Red Bull Racing Australia at the end of last year and it was ironic that his victory today came with a red hot Craig Lowndes exerting maximum pressure.
He also returned from the savage crash that he had at Phillip Island last November where he smashed a leg, then endured a two-month rehabilitation program over Christmas.
With Adrian Burgess in his corner Courtney kept Lowndes at bay across the line with Kiwi Shane van Gisbergen recovering from a pit lane penalty for third. Van Gisbergen’s effort, although he benefitted from Coates Hire’s Nick Percat hitting the treacherous turn eight wall at the end.
Courtney said it was a good day for HRT but not a sign that the mighty Holden factory team would suddenly be a force again, instead taking time after a series of team changes, including Burgess.
“It certainly has been a big couple of months and I have complete faith in ATB (Burgess) and that’s why I was pretty pumped when he came on board and it is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Courtney.
“We are polishing a nugget at the moment, we have plenty of work that we have to do to match these guys weekend in, weekend out because they are definitely are still the class of the field at the moment and we just managed to get on top of it this race today.”
Courtney said Burgess was already having a solid impact.
“This is the first time that HRT has opened their eyes and ears and are listening to other opinions and realised that we didn’t know and have all the answers,” he said.
It was Courtney’s first win in Adelaide.
“It’s definitely my favourite event, Bathurst is a cool place – the fans and the history makes that – but this place is out of control,” he said.
“We roll in here on the Tuesday; 300,000 crazy people come here each weekend and cheer us on and to have that feeling and the vibe in that town makes it so much better and pleasurable for us.
“We all lift our game and it’s such a great atmosphere to win in.”
Is was a crazy race day, as is often the case in Adelaide. Crash, bang and controversy. Penalties a plenty, a massive rollover and the reigning Champion is strife.
Saturday’s Volvo hero Scott McLaughlin was ready to do it all again after his podium the day before running in third with a dozen laps to go before some type of failure ended his day, stopped on track.
Whincup copped a penalty for his car controller illegally assisting the crew to repair a damaged right front and when he returned he took too much into a corner trying to make up places.
The contact with Norton Hornet’s Michael Caruso ended both drivers’ day.
“First of all big apologies to Michael,” Whincup said. “I came in all out of control trying to get some positions back after the pit lane penalty. Big apologies to Michael and his crew.”
Caruso salvaged fourteenth place having been as high as sixth before the incident.
Jason Bright was uninjured in a major rollover following a restart when his car flipped at the first corner as the field jostled for places.
He was uninjured despite the spectacular crash. Others to suffer big impacts were Will Davison in the Citizen Erebus Motorsport V8 Mercedes Benz unfortunately for him and his new team who were putting together a reasonable race at that point.
Just like Van Gisbergen, Rick Kelly fought back to fifth from a drive-through penalty in his Nissan Altima as they show ominous signs for the coming events.
V8 Supercars heads to the 2014 Formula One Rolex Australian Grand Prix in 10 days’ time to do it all again.