More podiums. That’s James Courtney’s expectation as the V8 Supercars Championship heads to Holden Racing Team’s Winton home track.
The 33-year old, who re-signed for another three years with HRT only weeks ago, is on a champagne-spraying roll, having finished second twice and third twice in the last eight Championship races.
One of those podiums was in HRT’s sensational second race at the Sucrogen Townsville 400, where Courtney followed teammate Garth Tander home to snap the team’s winless streak that stretched back to the 2011 Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000.
“I think we have been on the podium with my car at every round since our test at Winton,” the 2010 V8 Supercars Champion told v8supercars.com.au.
“The speed has been really good, the car has been developing nicely and we have a few more bits on the beast for next round.”
The one thing that’s missing is a win, an experience Courtney hasn’t savoured since his very first event driving for the factory team in Abu Dhabi in 2011.
But he’s confident that isn’t far away for him whether it comes at Winton or not.
“What we have in the pipeline can hopefully put us onto the top step of the podium regularly,” Courtney said.
HRT’s turnaround has been dramatic. After struggling early and then enduring a very public test program at Championship events, substantial suspension and engine work have extracted competitive pace from the team’s new Car of the Future Holden Commodore VF.
“We are coming off two rounds in Darwin and Ipswich that were horrendous for us in terms of car speed last year and we have proven that we have got really good speed in those two events,” said Courtney. “So I am excited to get to Winton and have a good run.”
Courtney said it had been a welcome change to be battling at the front of the pack again rather than the middle to lower order.
“It’s been awesome dicing at the front with the boys again and be back at the front where HRT should be,” he said.
“I am not in any way thinking that we are going to go to Winton and qualify one-two and finish first and second in every race. We are still fighting to find that little bit extra to do it. But I think we are still a consistent performer at the podium level now which is a huge step forward.”
Courtney, who runs ninth in the Championship, is also riding on a high thanks to team owner Ryan Walkinshaw’s coup in signing Adrian Burgess away from triple Eight Race Engineering to take over as managing director of Walkinshaw Racing in 2014.
They worked together in Europe and also at Dick Johnson Racing and while Courtney denies any role in Burgess’ signing, he did reveal to v8supercars.com.au they stayed in close contact after going their separate ways at the end of 2010.
“Even over the last couple of years when we were out socially we would be talking about the racing side of things, get a bit carried away and start talking about stuff and then realise ‘oh heck, you’re opposition we can’t actually do that’,” Courtney said.