V8 Supercars – Courtney Can Defend Ipswich Crown With Toll HRT

August 17, 2011

V8 Supercars

James Courtney Driving The HRT Commodore

Reigning V8 Supercar Champion James Courtney believes he and the Toll Holden Racing Team can begin the second half of the season with a win in the Coates Hire Ipswich 300, while team-mate Garth Tander is confident HRT’s return to speed will continue.


The 2011 V8 Supercar Championship resumes this weekend at Queensland Raceway, Ipswich, after a six week break since the Sucrogen Townsville 400 where Tander took his second championship race win of the season and HRT’s 199th all-time race victory.


A race win in one of the weekend’s three races by either driver would bring up an historic 200th win – an Australian record.


Courtney is the defending event champion having clean swept last year’s two races in a dominant performance on a track that, although simple in design, with its notorious bumps is extremely difficult to conquer.


“Winning both races was big last year, so more of the same would be nice,” Courtney said.


“There’s big bumps in the track coming into Turn 1, they’re big in Turn 2 and in the braking area into Turn 3, so bump control is the secret to QR, getting the car to be compliant so that it rides the bumps well but doesn’t lose it in other places.”


After winning the second race in the season’s opening event in Abu Dhabi, Courtney has endured a tough first season with the factory Holden team and currently lies 19th in driver points, but the six week mid-season break has given he and his team an opportunity to regroup.


“It’s been a good big break, I’ve enjoyed it but it’s been too long between races,” Courtney said.


“We’re refreshed, keen and ready to go racing again – it’s almost like we’re going into a new season.


“The development of the car has been good, we’ve had a good look over it, rectified a few things, made some changes and prepared ourselves well.


“Historically the second half of the year has been good to me and I enjoy the circuits, so we’ve got a great opportunity to finish the year strong and I’m pretty confident.”


Also a previous Ipswich race winner, Tander said he believed the team had used the past six weeks to its best advantage, refreshing both Toll HRT Commodores and continuing with its development program.


“After winning in Townsville and both cars showing strong pace, we wanted to keep racing rather than have time off,” Tander said.


“We used the opportunity to freshen the cars, they are like brand new again, and continue with our developments.


“The guys at the race shop have also cycled through holidays – everyone and everything is ready to go.”


The three race format returns this weekend albeit with a difference with Saturday’s two 22-lap races – Races 16 and 17 in the 2011 Championship – split by a 15 minute service period.


Teams have the first three minutes to refuel after the first race, then 12 minutes to prepare for Race 17, its grid determined by Race 16’s finishing order.


Sunday sees a 20 minute qualifying session prior to the weekend’s final race of 65 laps.


Tander said the new format had the opportunity to make or break someone’s weekend.


“Saturday’s format is exciting and sort of goes back to the old 20 minute sprint races except this time there’s not a lot of time to fix things if it all goes array in the first race,” he said.


“You can pass at Queensland Raceway, but qualifying will still be extremely important as the lap times are short, the races are short and there’s no pit stop strategies coming into play.


“Hopefully everyone plays it smart and we all keep our noses clean early before tuning it up for the second race.”

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