James Courtney has described his return to Bathurst as “pretty hairy”.
The 2010 Supercars Champion was out injured last year after a freak helicopter accident at Sydney Motorsport Park, and was unable to drive his Holden Racing Team Commodore until the Gold Coast event later in October.
He won that event's Sunday race with Jack Perkins – and another event he dearly wants to cross off the list is the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000. He teams up with Perkins again this year.
“It’s pretty hairy when you get to your first flyer across the top of the hill, it gets your attention,” Courtney said.
“It was disappointing to have missed it last year and see these guys have a lot of fun and the track is a hell of a lot quicker than what it was a couple of years ago when we came here.
“The speed across the top of the hill is a lot higher than it was two years ago.
“I’m really enjoying it, love it here. The atmosphere is amazing and the track is great, the fans and everything – it’s pretty crazy the people that are here already on a Thursday.”
Courtney had a moment in the first session, rubbing the wall at the top of the Mountain, but managed to finish 11th and 10th in his two sessions, with co-driver Jack Perkins sixth in the co-driver only session.
In the final practice session Jamie Whincup steered the fastest lap ever recorded on a Thursday, a 2min05.2946, and Courtney puts the pace down to experience with the new generation cars at the circuit, as well as the recent resurface, which has seen record times for the Supercars over the last two years.
“I think it’s everything the teams are learning the cars a little bit better, the tyres are changing, the circuit is always evolving and as its new and as it gets older it always changes,” he said.
“It’s everything – I don’t think you can put it down to one thing.
“I think it should be pretty speedy as the weekend goes on if it doesn’t rain again or rain at all, and the temperature remains cool.”