As expected, newly-crowned V8 Supercar champion James Courtney has been confirmed as signing a multi-year deal to drive for the Toll Holden Racing Team from 2011.
Courtney will joins 2007 series champion Garth Tander in the line-up, replacing Will Davison, who heads in the opposite direction across V8 Supercar's Ford-Holden divide. Holden chairman Mike Devereux said Courtney's signing added to HRT's proud racing heritage and served as a tribute to team owner Tom Walkinshaw, who passed away on Sunday.
“For more than 20 years, the Holden Racing Team has proudly boasted some of Australia's best motor racing talent and James Courtney is no exception," he claimed, "He is a class act – an outstanding driver and provides our racing programme with a real boost. At a time when we are paying tribute to the late Tom Walkinshaw for his amazing contribution to Holden motorsport, it is fitting that Australia's leading driver has joined his famous team.”
Courtney said his decision to join Toll HRT, with whom he began his V8 Supercar career by contesting the annual endurances races in 2005, was the beginning of another chapter in his distinguished career and presented an exciting new challenge.
“The Toll Holden Racing Team is the most successful V8 Supercar team in the past 20 years and the HRT brand the most prestigious in Australian motorsport, so I am honoured and excited to join the team,” the former Jaguar F1 test driver said, “Throughout my career I have continually challenged myself and after now having won the V8 Supercar Championship it is time for another test."
Courtney paid tribute to late team owner Walkinshaw, saying he left behind a legacy of success that he was determined to carry on.
“I met Tom on a number of occasions, and he was a hard core racer whose goal was always to win and he had my total respect and admiration,” the Australian said, “Tom expected results and that is exactly what I plan to bring to Toll HRT and with Garth take the team back to where it belongs.”
Toll Holden Racing Team MD Craig Wilson said the announcement of the 2011 driver line-up, which ran as scheduled, was made in the true spirit of Walkinshaw.
“We are delighted to have signed James to drive alongside Garth at the Toll Holden Racing Team,” he confirmed, “The combination of these two drivers will form a line-up that is second to none in pit-lane and as a team we are determined to win the 2011 drivers' and teams' championships.
“The news of Tom passing away was a great shock this week however, in the spirit that Tom always approached his racing we are very much looking forward and working to achieve even greater success in the years to come with Toll HRT.”
Courtney will have his first taste of a Toll Holden Racing Team Holden VE Commodore Series II on Wednesday 15 December, when he takes part in the team's annual sponsor ride day at the Phillip Island grand prix circuit.