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Courtney claims Ford's first 2010 Championship victory
1 May 2010
James Courtney has broken Ford's win-less streak in the 2010 V8 Supercar Championship Series after dominating today's Ipswich 300 at Queensland Raceway.
The Jim Beam Racing ace qualified second behind Toll Holden Racing Team driver Garth Tander, who lead from the start of the 38-lap event. Courtney then pushed hard on the soft-compound Dunlop SP Sport Maxx Sprint, a tactic which would prove fruitful. Courtney then gained the lead on lap 4 and ultimately ran away with victory; his and Ford's first of the 2010 V8 Supercar Championship Series.
Courtney's only hurdle for the race was stalling exiting his pit bay on lap 17, however the mishap wouldn't stop him, claiming a 13-second victory over Craig Lowndes and Shane van Gisbergen – all of which use the Queensland circuit as their test track.
“The car was amazing; it didn't deteriorate too much the whole time, it was quite surprising how well it did hold up. I was able to get quite a good margin and then just cruise around nicely to the end,” said Courtney.
“I had a lot of speed at the start and I thought I'd stay behind Garth to see what his speed was like, and he was going a bit slower than I thought we had to. So I got passes him and set my own rhythm.”
Courtney's victory wasn't his first for the year after winning Race 1 of the non-Championship BRC IMPCO V8 Supercars GP Challenge at the Australian Grand Prix. Today's victory was the 75th for his Jim Beam Racing outfit, occurring the week of team boss and racing great Dick Johnson's 65th birthday.
“We've always gone really well here in the past, we won here two years ago when I was with SBR, so it's a place I like to come to and it's good to have a victory with Ford.
“Jim Beam Racing is one of the top teams and can take out the Championship. I think it's definitively feasible, we had really good speed today and we did take points out of Jamie's lead. If we take a few more out tomorrow and hopefully reduce the gap throughout the year we're in with a really good shot at the end.”
TeamVodafone's Craig Lowndes finished second, only the second time this season he has beaten his Championship-leading team-mate Jamie Whincup.
Lowndes qualified eighth and charged through the field early. He was then second towards the end of the race, suffering from tyre degradation. He managed to hold off a closing van Gisbergen to claim his equal-best result of the season after Abu Dhabi's Race 1. Lowndes now expects more passing in tomorrow's Race 10 after the season's first race using the Dunlop soft-compound tyre only.
“The soft tyre gives you a greater difference in speed,” said Lowndes. “If there were another five laps to go I would have struggled to be in front of Shane, it's one of those things that will play a huge part tomorrow and you'll probably see different speeds from different cars at different times. The passing side will come with that.”
Young Kiwi Shane van Gisbergen finished third in Race 9, his third podium for the 2010 V8 Supercar Championship Series.
“I learnt last year how much the tyres went off. We did a pretty long run on Friday which gave us an idea of the target lap time and what we had to run for,” said van Gisbergen. “We stuck to that in the race, I conserved a little bit too much, but we were strong in the end of the stint. I dropped to eighth in the first stint and came back through, and in the second stint I pushed a little bit harder. We needed another four laps. But it's a great way to bounce back after the disappointment Hamilton.”
Championship leader Jamie Whincup finished fourth ahead of Garth Tander, Steven Johnson and Lee Holdsworth in seventh. Whincup now leads Courtney by 174 points in the standings.
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