Court­ing James

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Motorsport -

THIS week there has been a lot of talk about James Court­ney swap­ping to Holden. All I can say is, why not?

He’s lead­ing the cham­pi­onship and can po­ten­tially win it and he’s just look­ing for the best deal he can be­yond this year.

That’s just nor­mal for a race driver.You have to look at all your op­tions.

There is fam­ily to think about, where he wants to live, and the most im­por­tant thing is the team spon­sor­ship is vi­able for the next few years.

They call this the silly sea­son for a rea­son. Ev­ery­thing changes in this sport. I’ve been through it my­self on sev­eral oc­ca­sions, twice swap­ping man­u­fac­tur­ers, so I know what driv­ers are go­ing through.

Silly sea­son is be­com­ing more com­mon for driv­ers. But the most im­por­tant thing is you don’t lose fo­cus on the job ahead, and JC hasn’t won the cham­pi­onship yet.

There are still 900 points up for grabs in the fi­nal three rounds, so any­thing can hap­pen. But it’s not only a two-horse race with JC and my team­mate Jamie Whin­cup.

Frosty (Mark Win­ter­bot­tom) and I

They call this the silly sea­son for a rea­son. Ev­ery­thing changes in this sport. I’ve been through it my­self.

are about 300 points be­hind and we haven’t ruled our­selves out just yet.

So while JC and Jay-dub might run con­ser­va­tively for points, Frosty and I have noth­ing to lose and will go all out for a do-or-die vic­tory.

I’m look­ing for­ward to a re­turn to the sprint tyres for the Tas­ma­nian round this week­end. We ran them there last year with a lot of suc­cess and it’s a cir­cuit where you can get away with run­ning the tyre for a long time and be com­pet­i­tive right to the end.

The prob­lem for us is that JC has won all four sprint tyre races this year at Queens­land Race­way and Win­ton.

His car is ob­vi­ously set up for that com­bi­na­tion and he’ll be hard to beat. We have to qual­ify on the stan­dard Dun­lop tyre and then ad­just the car to suit what we be­lieve will be the gains on the sprint tyre, so it’s like shoot­ing in the dark. But most teams have got their heads around it now.

This cir­cuit is re­ally short and ba­si­cally has only three cor­ners and some kinks, so you have to qual­ify well and stay out of trou­ble, stay up front and not get back in the field where you run the risk of go­ing a lap down.

The hair­pin at the end of the first straight is a ma­jor cause of car­nage but also a great place to pass. I al­ways look for pass­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties go­ing into the corner, but if you can’t then it’s also good for the switch­back.

As long as you get good drive out of the corner you can maybe get them on the back straight.

The hair­pin seems to beach a lot of cars, so be pre­pared for more safety car ac­tion, but not as much as at the Gold Coast where the safety car nearly did as many laps as I did. The prob­lem is it takes a long time to get the cars on a tilt tray and clean up the track be­fore it’s safe for a re-start.

On a street cir­cuit it might be time to look at a sky­hook sys­tem like they have in F1, where they use a crane to pluck wreck­age off the cir­cuit.

Speak­ing of F1, I’ll be glued to the TV on Sun­day night for the fi­nal race to see if Mark Web­ber can be­come the first Aussie world champ since Alan Jones in 1980. It’s go­ing to be a thrilling end to the sea­son, and this is what F1 or any motorsport cat­e­gory should be about.

The cham­pi­onship should al­ways come down to the last corner of the last round. The V8 sea­son could be like that. We cer­tainly hope so.

This week­end the Aus­tralian Superbikes are back rac­ing at the same event as the V8s and it also looks like com­ing down to the last race of the year. It should be very en­ter­tain­ing.

I’d like to see more superbikes at V8 events. I think it’s a good mix for the race fans.

We have lift-off: James Court­ney in ac­tion on the Gold Coast. With three rounds to go Court­ney is in the run­ning to win the cham­pi­onship.

Craig Lown­des V8 Su­per­car cham­pion

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