Courtney's Championship reinvigorated

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 10/07/2014
  • By V8 Supercars

While the Holden Racing Team continues pressing on, its strong performance over the weekend begs one key question - can James Courtney win the Championship from here?

All eyes were on his teammate Garth Tander at the Castrol Townsville 500 - Driven by TAFE Queensland, who recorded his first win of the 2014 season in an HRT 1-2 finish.

But Courtney has crept closer to his competitors on the points table after solid 8-2-4 finishes over the weekend and a second 2014 ARMOR ALL Pole Award for Race 20.

The #22 driver is now just seven points away from third placed Fabian Coulthard, one point down on Shane van Gisbergen in fourth, and two points better placed than Craig Lowndes, who tumbled from second over the weekend, showing just how big an impact a bad run can have on overall standings.

Courtney is now 280 points from leader Mark Winterbottom - with 300 awarded over a weekend, or for winning an endurance race - and said it was an awesome scenario.

With more improvements to his Walkinshaw Racing Holden Commodore VF to come, and confidence for the Pirtek Enduro Cup beginning in September, it would be a mistake to write off the 2010 Champion for this year's title.

"Championship-wise it's fantastic, so close now. Big smiles in the garage, which is excellent!" Courtney told v8supercars.com.au.

"It's so good. We've been chipping away at the front on and off the whole year, but since our last test it's been consistent, bang - myself and GT - all over it. So it's so encouraging for us...

"For us to be as unhappy as we are with the car, we had to double stack (in Race 22 on lap one), and still come home fourth and gain places in the Championship, move up closer to the front, it's still a pretty good weekend."

While stacking behind his teammate in the double points Sunday race after a lap one Pedders Chrysler Safety Car was something Courtney described as "not pleasant" though strategically necessary, it wasn't the only time he was on the receiving end of some bad luck in Townsville.

"I got banged about with Craig and all the other shenanigans at the start (of Race 20)," he said.

"So it's been really good - considering how crazy the weekend was - to still come away with the points."

Courtney knows he can improve on last year's horror run during the Pirtek Enduro Cup, which he will again tackle with fan favourite Greg Murphy.

"It's so encouraging considering all the stuff we've got coming, as well... Enduro season is great for us, I really enjoy the longer races. We had a bit of bad luck last season, we had really good pace, so the end of the year is great."

But there are two more SuperSprint events before that next phase of the Championship, with a happy hunting ground ahead at the Coates Hire Ipswich 400, where Courtney has won three races and last year achieved two podiums, as well as announced his re-signing with HRT.

"QR (Queensland Raceway) is next, which was good for us last year.

"I'm really enjoying my job at the moment and it makes it so much better when both sides of the garage are having a really good time dicing it out."

While he is well in contention for the title, team boss Adrian Burgess - who was with Courtney at DJR when he won the Championship in '10 - was coy about chances this year.

"There's a long way to go and a lot of points on the table," he told v8supercars.com.au.

"We need to put another couple of tenths in the car before we can realistically look at that and think of that. But you're never going to give up. We'll keep pushing - anything can happen."

Tickets are available now for the Coates Hire Ipswich 400, running from August 1-3.

Stay In The Know
Sign up to the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship Newsletter