Holden Racing Team’s James Courtney has declared he is not worried about Prodrive Racing Australia’s Mark Winterbottom’s position at the top of the Championship ladder because the Ford team is sure to ruin its own chances as it has in previous years.
An animated Courtney – who sits fifth on the points table and 143 points behind Winterbottom – said there was plenty of time to improve and was more concerned about Red Bull’s Craig Lowndes than the PRA driver. Lowndes sits second, 12 points away from the lead, is gunning for his 100th V8 Supercars race victory, and is already a three-time champion.
“Not worried at all – they [Prodrive] tend to step on their d*** at a number of points through the year and we’re just waiting for that to happen,” Courtney told v8supercars.com.au.
"Their car has obviously got a lot of pace, probably more so than what they have in the past. But really since I’ve been back here [in V8 Supercars], him and Jamie [Whincup] or Triple Eight, have easily had superior cars over everyone.
“They managed to deliver six or seven Championships and they [Prodrive] have delivered nothing.
“So I think, from a Championship point of view, still, I’m more concerned about Craig than what I am about Mark.”
Twelve Championship races are complete at this stage of the season, with 24 remaining, including the Wilson Security Sandown 500 and Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000, where 300 points can be earned and lost in one hit.
Courtney progressed as high as third in last year’s Championship before finishing sixth, and won the title in 2010 at Dick Johnson Racing, running a Triple Eight Ford Falcon.
Winterbottom led the title race from New Zealand to Queensland Raceway last year, before ultimately finishing third behind Shane van Gisbergen and Whincup.
Earlier this season Courtney called holding the title lead a luxury after recording the most points after the season opening Clipsal 500 Adelaide. The HRT #22 driver said the title fight was on people’s minds, even this early in the season.
“Everyone who says they’re not thinking about it is talking out of their arse – everyone thinks about it from the first weekend,” Courtney said.
“You don’t go conserving things and that sort of stuff, but you’ve definitely got your eye on it straight away.
“But yeah, there’s still a long way to go, a lot of points still to come, there’s no great drama with old mate, I don’t think he’s way in front and un-catchable. I think we’ve still got plenty of time.”
The last round at Winton wasn’t a big points earner for Courtney, who slipped from second to fifth over the weekend. The event was a bit disastrous, after coming together with his teammates on track, but nevertheless the HRT driver believes they gained valuable knowledge about the Commodores.
“I think it showed our weakness with our car – before, if we didn’t really know what it was, we definitely come out of the weekend knowing exactly what the weakness was with what we had.
“So we’ve definitely got quite a bit to work on with the car in that area.”
Teammate Garth Tander said post-race it was a part of the corner they needed to improve. “The weakness is identified,” Tander confirmed. “As far as going about fixing it, we did quite a lot [over the Winton] weekend to try and rectify it but we never really got on top of it. We’ve got a lot of information, a lot of data across the cars to go through. We’ve got a bit of a break now so we’ve got a lot of number crunching going on before we roll out in Darwin.”
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Article courtesy of v8supercars.com.au