It has been two years for the pinup boy of V8 Supercars to break through for a race win. Today James Courtney realised his enormous calibre with victory in the opening race of the City of Ipswich 400 at Queensland Raceway.
Courtney also took his second pole position for his Jeld Wen Racing team on what was as close to the perfect day as you can get. He held off a charging Championship leader Mark Winterbottom in the closing laps.
Holden convert Russell Ingall produced his first 'podium' in his new Supercheap Auto team, ironically next to his old team-mate in Courtney, who said later he had wanted to 'silence' his critics after a Sydney newspaper driver survey labelled him the 'most over-rated' driver.
"It's a good feeling to get that monkey off my back and silence a few people," Courtney said. "I don't really care what other people think about me as long as I am happy with what I am doing. I value other people's opinions but it doesn't affect me at all. It's one thing that racing drivers are not short of and that's an ego.
"When it (the survey) first came out I let my results speak for themselves. I've had quite a few podiums this year ahead of a lot of other guys, but everybody is entitled to their own opinion.
"For us it has been two and a half years in the making. Now we can get on with proper racing and we don't have to have that thing hanging over our head any more."
Ingall was also happy in being vindicated following his decision to swap from Ford to Holden and to what some had described as the under-achieving Supercheap Auto Racing.
"I suppose it's like what James has gone through this year," Ingall said. "I had my critics at the beginning of the year. A lot of people said that it was the last time I would win a race in my career but that gives me a lot of incentive.
"To turn this around to potentially a race winning team within six months they (the team) should be congratulated. You are not a solo flyer in this game. There are a lot of people in the background making my life easier. It was a gamble in a lot of areas. We are sneaking up on it, not trying to make too much noise and flying under the radar until we get this thing sorted out.